January 15, 2015

It's Not About Me; or Why My Special Needs Child Has a Right to Exist

I should know better by now, but recently I've engaged in several online arguments about the rights of people with disabilities to exist in this world, and in particular, the right of unborn children with disabilities to not be aborted.

One "argument" really stuck out to me- "Your kid is alive and no one forced you to abort, because it's your CHOICE!"

Ah, but see, it's not my choice.  My daughter doesn't have a right to be here because I chose not to kill her.  She has a right to live because she's a human being with intrinsic worth and value, a fact that's been true since the very moment of her conception.  And while this is true of all unborn children, but the point is particularly important when we're talking about those diagnosed prenatally* with disabilities, because they belong to a class of people who to this day still aren't considered fully human by society.

I mean, how often have you heard someone say "Of course I'm against abortion!  Well, unless there's something wrong with it, obviously..." 

See my point?  Even people who can see the value in the life of a "normal" unborn child often can't see it in one with a disability- especially a profound or life threatening condition.

Here's the thing- our ME-obsessed society has decided that we have a right to have children (and therefore, a right not to have children). That children exist to serve some purpose in our lives and fulfill something in us.  This is why we have contraception, abortion, IVF, etc.  It all ties back to our mistaken believe that we have a right to have (or not to have) children. But as Catholics, we know this isn't true.  From the Catechism-

Of all visible creatures only man is "able to know and love his creator".219 He is "the only creature on earth that God has willed for its own sake",220 and he alone is called to share, by knowledge and love, in God's own life. It was for this end that he was created, and this is the fundamental reason for his dignity.
Children are not a right.  We are not owed them.  They exist for their own sake.  So no, my children, and in particular my special needs child, do not have a right to exist because I "chose" not to kill them.  They have a right to exist because through grace they were conceived, and from that moment they existed for their own sake, not mine.  For their own lives, their own purposes, not mine.

And this is why all the arguments in favor of aborting children with disabilities fall flat.  It doesn't matter if you can handle it.  It doesn't matter if you don't think it's "fair."  It doesn't matter if you don't want a "retarded" kid. It's not about you. And it doesn't matter if they may suffer and if their life may be short.  They have a God-given right to the life that they've been given, period.  It's not for any of us to decide that that life is not worth living.

*For the record, my daughter's disability was not diagnosed prenatally- it's the result of a birth injury.  A fact which I've heard is "too bad" because I didn't have a chance to "take care of it" before she was born.  You know...kill her.

December 22, 2014

What I Read This Year- 2014 Edition

Hayley over at Carrots for Michaelmas inspired me to kick off my return to blogging with a look at what I read this year. I'm a giant book nerd, so it's a perfect place to start! For a quick visual look at my year in reading, you can check out my Goodreads challenge, but I'm going to break it down by category here and give links where possible.

But before I jump into that, I want to take a minute to address a common response I get when people find out how much I read (66 books and counting for this year!) It usually goes something like this- "How do you do it? I just don't have the time to read!"

Trust me, I get it. I'm incredibly busy myself. I have four kids, one of which has special needs (and so requires extra care and attention) and two of which I homeschool. That alone is a full-time job! And on top of that, I cook most of our food from scratch, keep the house (relatively) clean, co-teach Kindergarten CCD class, volunteer regularly with Family Promise, work part-time from home, and I'm a foster mom.

Holy crap, I'm exhausted just thinking about it! So how did I manage to read 66 books this year, with all of that going on?

The answer is embarrassingly simply- I read almost every night before bed.

Seriously, it's really that easy.  I get the younger kids to bed around 8pm, then I head straight for my bed.  Normally I read for 2-3 hours, then turn on my Compline app and pray myself sleep.  Some nights I fall asleep soon after I get started, some nights I'm up way too late because I just can't put the book I'm currently reading down, and sometimes I don't read at all.  But usually it's 2-3 hours a night.

I rarely read during the day, because I just don't have time.  It's normally GO GO GO from the time the kids get up until they're in bed.  It does mean I sacrifice other activities, like watching TV or knitting/crocheting, but if reading is a priority for you, you'll find the time.  You can dooo ittt!

Okay, on to the books!  (FYI, halfway through I decided I wanted to link to Goodreads instead of Amazon.  But I was too lazy to back and change the ones I'd already done.  Yet another reason I'm the World's Worst Blogger.  Sorry!)

In Progress
Couldn't Get Through
HOLY CRAP that took forever to write!  I think next year I'll just direct you to my goodreads list and leave it at that.  My carpal tunnel is flaring up, for real.

Anyway, a few books stand out as favorites- Longbourn, a "downstairs" look at Pride and Prejudice.  If you're a Jane Austen fan should enjoy that one.  I also really loved the MaddAddam trilogy by Margaret Atwood (one of my all time favorite authors), and The Wind Through the Keyhole is a must-read for any Dark Tower fans.

Oh!  And The Casual Vacancy was amazing. If you're wondering if JK Rowling can "do" something other than Harry Potter, the answer is YES.  Yes, she can.

The Nerd Who Loved Me was so painfully terrible and predictable I couldn't get through it, and that's rare for me.

What about you?  How was your "year in reading?"  How do you make time for books?

As part of my attempting start blogging again, I created a Facebook page for my blog. I'm hoping it will motivate me to blog at least semi-regularly. Like the page!

December 2, 2014


If anyone is still hanging out, here are some updates for you!

  • We were approved for our foster parent license! We don't have a permanent placement yet, but we did do respite for another family over the Thanksgiving holiday.  We're open to adopting if any kiddos placed with us become available.
  • In preparation for that, we upgraded to a 12 passenger van.  I love it.  I feel like I'm in some official Catholic mom club now.  The Big Ass Van crew.
  • I've been working from home as a freelance writer to help make ends meet.  Nothing fancy, just resumes and web content development.
  • Still homeschooling the 1st and 7th graders.
  • Oh, and I'm a contributing blogger over at Rational Catholic Blog, a blog for faithful, science-minded Catholics.
SO, someday I hope to actually get back into blogging regularly.  Check in once in awhile and see!

June 5, 2014

Why I Quit Blogging

So I was dusting off the old blog roll and was interested to see that several of the blogs I used to follow are also now defunct.  It got me to thinking about why I quit blogging.

  1. Voice-  I feel like I come off as prim and proper in my blog, which I am oh so totally NOT in real life.  I'm not sure why that is.  Possibly just trying to seem professional or be concise, but I know as time went on, it bothered more and more, and I got to a point where I felt like I had unintentionally boxed myself into a persona that really didn't reflect who I am. 
  2. Pressure- It may seem laughable to people with huge blog followings, but even having 30 people following me started stressing me out.  Part of this is likely a manifestation of my anxiety (which I'm now on Cymbalta for, woooo!)  This probably relates back the the first point, in feeling an internal pressure to live up to a standard/persona I had unintentionally created.  What people don't like what I post?  What if someone leaves me a nasty comment?  Minor issues for most people, but when you have anxiety, everything gets blown out of proportion.  I had mentioned once in a post that I have *GASP* tattoos, and noticed that basically immediately a long-time follower dropped me.  Ouch.
  3. Disappointment- I found myself getting pretty discouraged by the cattiness, infighting, and snark I was seeing in some of the popular blogs I read (I'm so totally not naming names, so don't ask!).  None of us are perfect, but man.  I found myself thinking that if I had to become a sanctimonious asshole to be a blogger, especially a "popular" one, I'd rather just don't blog at all.  Okay, so maybe saying that makes me sound a bit like a sanctimonious asshole myself, but I see people offering constructive criticism in a very loving and gracious way, and the response is basically "shove it, I'm hilarious and popular and you're not" it's just...blah.  It really turned me off of blogging, which was not fair to the 99% of bloggers who aren't like that.  But combined with the other stuff I was just not feeling it anymore.
  4. Lack of focus- This was a big issue as well, and again ties into the first.  Initially my blog was largely about homeschooling, conversion, and country life.  Well, then I was not homeschooling for a couple of years, my conversion was several years in the past and I was experiencing the euphoria crash following my conversion zeal, and we moved into town.  So.  Yeah.  I definitely felt a loss of focus there.  And with the other issues mentioned above, I just didn't really have the desire to figure out how to re-focus the blog.
So that's that, and here I am trying to get back into it.  I do miss the sense of community and having  a place to put my thoughts down.  We'll see how it goes.

Did you quit blogging, or take an extended break?  Why?

June 2, 2014


Something I've started adding into our homeschooling routine, and will definitely do more of next year, is lapbooking.  It's a fun break from more monotonous activities, and it's something my 6th grader and kindergartner can do together (of course, I expect significantly more detail and depth from the 6th grader!)

The first lapbook we did was a volcano/Pompeii unit (Pompeii focus for my oldest, because it was her interest in the historical event that prompted me to do the unit).  Since this was our first time, I kept it very basic; we read some books, watched some videos, put a simple lapbook together, and then made our own volcanoes!  I also had my 6th grader read City on Fire: A Novel of Pompeii and write a book report.

"Erupting" our volcanoes!

Oldest painting her volcano.

The printouts I found through Pinterest searches, and the volcano kits I purchased through Amazon

We just started on a butterfly life cycle lapbook.  We ordered a live butterfly kit so we can watch them go through their life cycle.  We started a nature journal where we're keeping observations, and we're reading books and starting to put our lapbooks together.  I found this resource particularly helpful! 

I was a little intimidated by the idea of lapbooking at first, but thanks to so many wonderful (and free!) resources around the internet, it wound up being a lot easier than I had anticipated.

Do you lapbook?  Share your favorite resources or units!

May 25, 2014

9 Months...

It's been nine months since my last post, so I suppose I can do another one, right?

Appropriately, I've been thinking about family size (no, I'm not pregnant).  With four children, we're at the cusp of what's considered a "socially acceptable" family size.  Of course, as Catholics we're expected to conform to the Church and not to society, but that's not exactly an easy path to navigate, either.

We're told to be both generous and responsible with our fertility, but what does that mean?  And how do we separate our personal feelings and biases from societal pressure to truly discern what's God's will and what this concept of generosity and responsibility looks like in practice?

Let's take responsibility- sometimes it's clear-cut (if you're homeless, for example, most people would agree it's not responsible to intentionally have children).  But other times it's not so clear.  What if having more children means your insurance premiums become significantly burdensome?  Is it irresponsible to use Medicaid?  Many politically conservative Catholics would say yes, but is it irresponsible from the viewpoint of the Church, and thus God, or is it in reality irresponsible from the viewpoint of their preferred political party or personal bias?  We're a solidly working class family that lives paycheck to paycheck, so trust me, money issues are something I'm keenly aware of!

Generosity...with falling fertility rates in the US, many Catholics, regardless of income and other considerations, seem to feel that 3 or 4 kids is plenty generous.  But again, who's standards are we judging against?  God's, or our culture's? 

I know there's a middle ground between having a dozen or more kids and living in abject poverty and having your 2.1 and living in your McMansion, but finding it is proving to be difficult for me.  I know many other mothers who also struggle with this, and clearly I myself have more questions than answers. 

For now, we're forgoing biological children and focusing on getting licensed to foster, and hopefully adopt a child.  But after that (5 children is the limit to foster in our state), who knows?

If you're still reading, I'd love to hear your thoughts on discerning family size!