The First Martyrs

Rachel weeping icon

“A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are no more.”

I have a giant blogroll that I keep up with– 60+ blogs, in all.

Most of them have written something about the Connecticut shooting. Most have expressed their shock, horror and dismay.

None have even tried to approach the “why”. I think that it’s because most people are still reeling. The “why” is as far from reach as the sun is from the earth. And good thing. Too much closer, and the “why” would burn us up.

Today, in our homily, our priest addressed this tragedy head on, which I was glad for.

I was even happier to realize that his words provided comfort and made some sense of all the chaos I was feeling as a result of this tragedy. So, I’ve decided to write a few of his words down here for you, in case you can use them.

It is no accident, he said, that this event occurred during the Nativity Season. Christmas was when Christ became incarnate, the perfect picture of innocence and child-like perfection.

Ever since, Satan has hated perfect innocence and the power the tiny Christ child held in his hands.

And, ever since, Satan has declared war on the innocent. He started with Herod’s massacre of the innocents in Bethlehem. They were the first martyrs, the first witnesses to Christ’s incarnation. All of those babies…slain so that all humanity could live.

Satan’s war on the innocent continues. As a nation, we are shocked and in mourning over the children who died this Friday. It is an unthinkably wicked thing to imagine, that someone could murder such innocents.

And yet.

Every.single.day. 115,000 children are slaughtered. 115,000 children are aborted when they are most helpless, growing within their mothers who should have died to defend them.

That is 42 MILLIONย CHILDREN. EVERY YEAR.

In fact, in America alone, 4 out of 10 pregnancies end in abortion.

Wrap your mind around that. If you have read my blog for any length of time, or even gotten me talking about abortion for even a few moments, you know that there is nothing that gets me angrier.

What gets me angriest is that our culture calls abortion good, because it enables our freedoms. That without abortion, women won’t have rights.

Our priest brought this up today. He said, “At least the ancients knew that child sacrifice was evil. They just believed, deep down, that it was the only way to appease the gods and survive.”

We sacrifice children to abortion every day. We sacrifice them in the name of a career, poverty, plastic surgery, social anxiety, or even health.

The ancients sacrificed children in order to please the gods. Our culture sacrifices them in order to please ourselves and our own idols.

Our society calls it good. Our Christian community sees other priorities and expends their energy elsewhere. We feel helpless and turn our attention to issues that we actually feel like we can solve. Many Christians say that abortion is just one of many issues, and that we need to keep a level head about it all. My boss at St. Peter’s, a wonderful Orthodox Christian man, was one such person who told me this.

The fact that so many Christians can vote for Obama, a man who is not only outspokenly for abortion, but also reinstated partial birth abortion, baffles me. Should any issues surrounding our economy take precedent over policies that enable the murders of millions of children???

Then there is the fact that many Christians do not believe abortion is wrong. Take the presiding bishop over the Episcopal Church in American, Katharine Jefferts Schori, who went so far as to call abortion a BLESSING. She is the main reason that I will never set foot in any Episcopal church, ever again.

Or, take the fact that between 2000 and 2009 in Canada, there were 491 failed abortions, and they chose to kill the children anyways! After they had already been born!

Where is the public outcry? The media?

I know it may seem like a raindrop in the bucket, but we CAN make a difference, if we only take a moment to address the gravity of the situation. Abortion can no longer be on the back burner.

It is for this reason that I make sure to have serious discussions about abortion whenever possible with my students. They are the ones who will be voting about this issue in the future. THEY are the ones who are, statistically, the most likely to get pregnant and be faced with the choice.

I know, for a fact, that there was a girl at my Flexing Poplars school who made a different choice, based on a conversation we had in English class. At 15 years old, she got pregnant during an orgy, and decided to not only keep the baby, but also dropped out of High School to raise it.

And you know what? She went from being an at-risk youth to being a fantastic mother.

I will always remember when she told me that it was our discussion in English class that changed her mind. She had never realized that the “clumps of tissue” everyone talks about actually have heartbeats, only 10 days after a mom even realizes she’s pregnant.

Due to this experience, I will always believe that changing someone’s mind about abortion can mean the difference between life and death on a very literal level.

You may not be able to go back in time and wrestle a gun away from a shooter, or lock just a few more doors in an elementary school.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t still save a life.

Another House Update

Well, folks, this house saga is like something from a movie. A HORROR movie. We’ve been through so many heartbreaks throughout this process, it’s maddening! I’ve heard that if one or two escrows fall through, it’s really tough on a couple buying a house. We’ve been through SIX. SIX!!!

Seriously, this whole process has been awful. I don’t think I will ever want to buy a house again (when I said this to our lender, he said that “buying a house is like childbirth– the baby makes you forget all the pain”. Whatever. Where’s my epidural??).

When we watch “Househunters” on HGTV, I can’t help but get super snarky and start yelling things at the TV like, “LIES!”, “THAT’S NOT HOW IT IS!”, “WHAT IS SO WRONG WITH THAT HOUSE?”, “IF YOU CAN’T GET PAST SOME BAD PAINT, YOU DON’T EVEN DESERVE A HOUSE!”

Part of the reason for all of this craziness is that the market in CA is climbing at a weekly rate. When we tried to buy a house back in April, we had, on average, 5-6 homes in the $200-250k range to pick from. Now? We can’t even find a single 3 bedroom home for under $270k! Every realtor that I’ve talked to says that everyone who’s trying to buy right now is about 6 months too late.

Since our “maybe” house switcheroo, we’ve also been in a bidding war on another house (we were competing with TWENTY other people!), AND in escrow on a 2 bedroom that we thought we could do renovations too. We eventually backed out of the short sale we had our offer accepted on because the bank was taking too long to do ANYTHING (normally with short sales, the bank needs 10 days in order to accept an offer that the seller has already accepted, but it had been 4 weeks and we still hadn’t gotten an answer!). We definitely lost the bidding war, even though our realtor offered 100% cash for us, $30k over the asking price! And we decided that with over $25k worth of renovations, the 2 bedroom just wasn’t the right fit for us.

On top of everything, we gave our 30 day notice and have to be out of our apartment by next Wednesday!!! Are you going crazy yet, just hearing about this????

There just might be a happy ending in sight. Our realtor, the one offering 100% cash for us (we will buy it from her immediately, but she’s not even getting commission!), bid on a short sale that was 2 weeks away from foreclosure. Basically, only a full cash offer would work, since normal sales take 45 days and it would have foreclosed by that time.

She won the bid, $25k under what the bank was asking! The bank is working hard to get things settled by next week, but there are no promises or guarantees in this business. We are not counting on much, that’s for sure! But there might be a chance that this is house is finally THE ONE.

Kenton Court 39

If we were to get this house, it would truly be an answer to prayer. It’s 2200 sq ft (WOW!), 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, granite kitchen countertops, beautiful views, and built in 2006!

But, as we know, it’s not over until the fat lady sings.

Please pray for us as we pack up our townhouse, without any sure idea of where we’re going!!!

 

Anthony 8 Month Letter

Dear Baby Boo-boo-bear,

What a big month for you this has been! This month, you started solid foods! You eat about 1 jar of food a day, spread out into 1-2 sittings. So far, you eat squash, bananas, carrots, and applesauce! Gregory tries to help and often puts the spoon in your mouth for us. He gets rather insistent though, even when you don’t want a bite, so Mommy can’t say you’ve enjoyed his involvement a ton ๐Ÿ™‚

Aj first time eating solids-- Nove 18

Your FIRST bite of solid food– November 18th

You are a SUPER FAST crawler now, transitioning from the “army” crawl onto all fours. One minute, you’ll be chewing on toys in the living room, the next, right behind Mommy in the kitchen. It’s scary! You get yourself stuck under furniture and need rescuing constantly.

AJ determined crawling

You are still a very LARGE baby. You wear 12-18 month clothing and size 4 diapers now! You still sleep next to Mommy in the co-sleeper, and sleep with her from 4am-9am when everyone wakes up.

All that nursing is probably why you’re so FAT! It’s also why you have yet to be ill– not one fever, cough or cold! Mommy hopes this immune system carries with you all your life. You still nurse a total of 6-8x/day.

AJ huge!

Look at all that chunk!

You are still famous for all of your funky sleep positions! We could make an entire picture album of funny places you’ve fallen asleep.

AJ funny sleep position in Dadda's arms

Exhibit A– restaurants

AJ funny sleep position dadda's lap

Exhibit B: While Dadda watches football

AJ asleep at Thanksgiving table

Exhibit C: At the Thanksgiving table

You are such a happy and playful boy! Now that you’ve been mobile for a few months, you take charge of your own situation and go searching for things to chew on. Gregory has had quite a few possessive moments with you as you suck on his toys, and when he takes them away you HOWL with frustration. Often, though, Gregory brings you the “besss toys”, and you smile lovingly at him. Pretty much anything Gregory’s doing, you want in on.

Anthony playing with balls 8 months

Playing ball with Gregory– you love it!

You have the cutest smile, and love to “charm” everyone who holds you. You are very social and interactive in a way that Mommy hasn’t seen with other babies. You look people right in the eye and babble away, as though holding a conversation (your Aunt Juju says that this is advanced speech development for your age!). When your Aunt Ray-ray was leaving last week, you reached your arm out and WAVED YOUR HAND! Mommy knows enough to realize that waving goodbye at 8 months is REALLY advanced!

AJ 8 months smile

AJ cry, 8 months

You are still famous for your sad pouty faces

AJ and Uncle Joe

You and your Uncle Joe still look a ton alike!

Even though you now crawl everywhere with ease, you still like to exercise on your haunches, rocking back and forth like you’re revving up an engine. It’s pretty hilarious.

AJ in bouncy swing

Going crazy in your bouncy swing!

Other than your inability to fall asleep for the night without several rocking sessions (what’s so bad about going to sleep? Someday, perhaps you can fill us in?), you are super easy in every way. When you and your brother play together, smiling and giggling, it fills Mommy’s heart with more joy than she could ever have imagined. Having another little boy like you is such a dream come true ๐Ÿ™‚

Love, Mommy

Christmas Activities!

Although we’ve been pretty occupied with finishing the school semester and finding a house/packing/moving, we were able to spend our weekend doing some fun Christmasey things, thanks to our awesome families!

On Saturday, after my mom and I ran a highly successful garage sale (the sale only made a combined total of around $150, but oh well!), we headed out to the Cone’s country house for some holiday fun.

20121209-220057.jpg

Auntie Em made some special vegan gingerbread cookies to decorate!

20121209-220028.jpg

Showing off the fruits of his labors ๐Ÿ™‚

20121209-220042.jpg

For a toddler, THIS is what it’s all about…

20121209-220017.jpg

Gregory loved this little train/music player. He pushed it over and over again, saying, ” ‘GAIN!” and “bye train!”

20121209-220005.jpg

Showing Dadda

20121209-215953.jpg

Delighted!

20121209-215931.jpg

Nana and Gregory making some pine-CONE ornaments!

20121209-215912.jpg

Finished and so proud!

20121209-215940.jpg

Decorating Nana and Poppa’s tree

After dinner at the Cone’s, we headed over to Vine Street, a Paso Robles’ tradition dating back long before I was a kid! I have great memories of participating in this event when I was super little, so it was neat to take my own kids! The whole thing is a lot bigger than I remember it though– 25,000+ participate every year!

vine-street-christmas-400

20121209-215807.jpg

AJ was NOT COOL with how cold it was!

20121209-215835.jpg

G kept warm with an Ernie beanie ๐Ÿ™‚

20121209-215814.jpg

All of the neat Victorian houses are decorated oh-so-pretty!

20121209-215855.jpg

20121209-215848.jpg

G’s favorite part was getting to pet the sheep. He was pretty zonked out during the live Nativity scene, or that probably would have been his favorite!

20121209-215901.jpg

And, of course, everyone’s favorite Vine Street event– Ebenezer Scrooge’s house! This guy has been doing his Ebenezer-thing for 20+ years now. 6 or 7 years ago, he sold the house to move to Oregon, but with one stipulation in the contract– that they let him come back every year to perform! Now THAT’S dedication!

Anthony 7 Month Letter

Dear Baby Wee,

Momma is writing this a few weeks late, once again, so good thing she has plenty of videos and pictures of this past month!

AJ crawling

Army crawling at Grandma’s

First of all, your biggest accomplishment this month is that you started crawling! You definitely do the army crawl, but you also like to get up on all fours and rock, back and forth, back and forth!

You still haven’t had any solid foods, but you get plenty of nutrition from all of your nursing sessions. You are so chunky and full of rolls!

AJ, 7 months

This was your brother’s size 12 month sleeper!

AJ 7 month giant

As you can see, it’s tight on you!

You just LOVE to laugh! We can get you going over pretty much anything. Sometimes, all it takes to get you laughing is to have someone else in the room chuckle. You are so sensitive and aware of what everyone else is doing that you can’t help but join in.

You just love to play with your brother, wrestling, growling and laughing on the ground. Because you’re so little, however, you often end up getting hurt by the end of things. You are very sensitive and get your feelings hurt easily. We don’t mind as much as we should, however, because your little pouty lip and cry are so cute!

AJ wrestling 1

AJ wrestling 2

Aj wrestling 3
You’ve really turned a corner this past month as far as sleeping goes. We can now lay you down, and even if you’re crying, you soothe yourself within 5-10 minutes, 90% of the time (if you are still upset after a few minutes, we pat your back or rock you until you calm down, enabling you to find sleep that way!). But you still nurse 2-3x night, and wind up sleeping next to Momma for a few hours. You are also known for your hilarious sleep positions!
AJ funny sleep position
AJ teddy bear rolls
You are such fun, Baby Wee! We love you a ton!
Love,
Mommy