Thursday, August 1, 2019

Life Lessons With Josh Harris

About 20 years ago, me and about a million other single teens and young adults attempted -- through many documented failures -- to find a Christian soulmate by following the strict formula outlined in Joshua Harris' 1997 bestseller I Kissed Dating Goodbye.

Like the author of this ill-fated book, I also held strong ideas about God, religion, and relationships when I was 20. Unlike Josh, I didn't write a cult classic that influenced two generations of young Christians. Thank God.

Maybe I didn't officially publish my stupid, untried opinions on life at age 20, but I sure did run my mouth about them.

And for that, mea maxima culpa in excelsis. (That's, like, all the Catholic street Latin that I know -- sacred liturgy with a side of Christmas carol -- crammed together into an apology. I hope it is a salve both to those who want to know that I'm sorry for speaking out of ignorance and also to those who would feel validated by a grating public example of my self-realized ignorance.)

While Joshua Harris' marriage method worked for some, many others experienced disappointment, marginalization, and even abuse as unintended side effects of the purity culture movementThe National Review describes his approach as a prosperity gospel for sex. Josh himself has apologized extensively for years, founded a support group for survivors on his website, and is currently going through a divorce and questioning his faith.

Given all of that, it seems that Josh and I have at least one more thing in common than just unfortunate relationship experiences sourced from the advice of his book: the Lord teaches us both through immersive experiential lessons in empathy.

(I'll pause here to clarify: no, I'm not going through a divorce or leaving the Church.)

But many of the hardline beliefs I held at age 20 -- poverty is the result of laziness, NFP is a super-effective form of birth control, the public behavior of young children is a direct reflection of the effort put forth by their parents -- have only softened through personal experiences of poverty, unplanned pregnancy, and public humiliation by my children.

And it's not like the untried stupid opinions stopped when I was 21. Even recently, I've deleted past blog posts that I once preached strongly and now renounce: victim-blaming those affected by domestic abuse, undermining President Obama's healthcare initiatives, sharing exaggerated statements against President Trump, presuming women who choose abortion don't seriously and conscientiously consider their available options, insisting that the best way to pursue a Catholic marriage vocation is to just marry someone who presents themselves as a good Catholic... I have said and shared some stupid stuff, and I am sorry.

In a 2017 TED talk, Josh talks about the difficulty of owning up to dumb things we've said or done in the past: "A lot of times I just want to run away from the whole process. And the reason I don't is because I believe that this is a pathway of growth for me, that I'm going to learn things in facing up to what I got wrong that I won't be able to learn any other way."

Unfortunately, apologies don't clear Internet archives or heal all of those affected or turn back time for a do-over. If only I could have learned my truisms through listening better to the true experiences of others. If only I had been slower to speak. 

Just as an aside, Ben Shapiro -- with whom I disagree more often than I agree -- has earned my respect through his willingness to publicly acknowledge past stupidity.

Alas. As it stands, me and Josh Harris -- and anyone else who sometimes runs their mouth ahead of their soul and wants to jump on this bandwagon -- are committed to change.

What does that look like?

It means choosing not to just "find someone on the Internet that agrees with you," an attractive option that Josh described while discerning the negative effects of I Kissed Dating Goodbye: "It would have been so easy to just write the critics off as haters… and then find people who liked my book and hide behind them… No matter who you are or what you think, you can find someone on the Internet that agrees with you." 

["No matter who you are or what you think, you can find someone on the Internet that agrees with you." - Josh Harris]

It means honest, respectful, vulnerable dialogue with those around us, especially those with whom we disagree. If we're talking with friends, it makes it harder to just write them off as angry trolls behind a computer screen. "I want connection and relationships and dialogue with real people," Josh explains in a recent Instagram post about his plans going forward.

It means quality over quantity. It's tempting to share every coherent thought that crosses my mind. It's tempting to run with what's popular or trending or easily-received by those whose opinions matter most to me. It's challenging to sit still and listen intentionally for a hot minute.

Our news cycle is currently churning up a 44-year-old man whose naive idealism is catching up to him two decades late. Rather than run and hide behind a willing-and-waiting fan club, Josh Harris has chosen to pause, dialogue, reflect, apologize, and dialogue some more.

Would that we could all be a little more like Josh. 

TEDx Harrisburg 2017

Thursday, May 30, 2019

An Unholy Martyrdom of Mothers

When mothers begin to question whether their burden is heavier than God intends for them to carry, they're often met with dismissive or detached advice to "offer it up," "find the joy," or "trust that God won't give you more than you can handle." Well-intentioned Christian blogs suggest the problem is all in their heads.

However, if her concern is taken seriously - recognizing that a mother's exhaustion and eventual death are not the goalposts of a motherhood well-lived - our communal Christian response might be to affirm her concerns as valid, to outsource some of her responsibilities, and to bolster her mental and physical health.

For a lesson in maternal guilt, pay attention to the moments before and after a woman confesses that she hires a cleaning person, a mother's helper, or a meal planning delivery service to alleviate her workload. Before: she glances around uncomfortably to check who's within earshot. After: she justifies the expense by quickly rambling through a description of current extenuating circumstances (as if family life itself weren't extenuating enough).

Do men feel the need to justify similar actions in this way? Do they duck when driving through a carwash, embarrassed that the family budget subsidizes their decision not to scrub and wax the car themselves? Are there whispered confessions in men's locker rooms about hiring a lawn service? For some reason, work traditionally done by men doesn't have the same social stigma when it’s outsourced.

Why would outsourcing be seen as a staple for men, but a luxury for women?

Please read the rest over at FemCatholic!

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

But How Will They Eat If Martha Sits Down?

After tucking the kids into bed, I pull out my rosary to pray a quick decade before cleaning up the kitchen. The story of Martha and Mary comes to mind.

"Our Father who art in heaven…"

A post-bedtime party begins in the kids' back bedrooms -- crib mattress bouncing as the 3-year-old jumps, preschool twins calling out like football players across their bedroom, the 7-year-old whining to the 9-year-old to give back his pillow.

"Lord," I complain. "I'm choosing the better part here. I'm choosing to be with You instead of busying myself with the distractions of my home. But it sounds like things are really going to pot back there."

I finish the decade and shake my head at Jesus' naivety about running a household. Who does He think is going to make dinner if not Martha? The contemplative life is a nice idea, but in the real world, at the end of the day, people want to eat dinner. Especially the little people who currently run my life and are not-so-slowly turning my brown hair gray.

I begin the second decade of prayer and meditation. The playful shrieks of my children continue in the background.

"Lord, my children are really going crazy back there. But I am choosing the better part."

I hear a crash and then silence and then crying. "OWWWIE!"

I drop the rosary into my pocket as I huff down the hall to check on owies and dispense divine justice.

With five kids split between two bedrooms, bedtime is… a process. One kid gets moved to the couch, another to my bed, and then, the dreaded ultimate weapon: I shut the bedroom doors.

I pull out my rosary and begin a third decade as a drawn-out "Maaaaama…" starts from the back bedroom. I pause to see how serious the need might be -- potty help? missing stuffed animal? -- but it stops, and the house is quiet.

"Our Father, who art in heaven…"

My mind wanders to a desire to stop praying and watch my recording of The Late Show from the prior night. But there's a kid settling in on the couch, so TV's not an option.

"...hallowed be Thy name…"

How can a mom running a household with five young kids possibly have a choice between being Mary or Martha? Who's going to feed the children?

Discontent echoes down the hallway. Humph. Humph. Humph -- followed by the thump of a mattress as my grumpy, tired seven-year-old shifts in bed.

Another decade complete.

Now shouts are calling down the hallway. "Gabwab! GABWAB!" I can tell which child it is because his speech lessons haven't yet ungarbled his words. I go to check it out.

The translation is "Bed Stuff!" and the complaint is that he was moved to the master bedroom without his blanket, pillow, bathrobe, and three stuffed animals.

The 7-year-old starts howling. It's not a complaint or a cry, just something he does because he's earned the rank of Wolf in Cub Scouts, and wolves howl. I decide to ignore it.

Fourth decade.

I'm grateful for the rhythm of the rosary. It's easy to pick up where I left off after each interruption.

I start a wry "Our Father" with undertones of, "Seriously, Lord? What are we doing here?" But I'm smiling.

My 9-year-old calls out from the couch, asking if he can sleep on the dog's couch instead of the TV couch. Sure.

"Ubba, wubba, wubba!" the 3-year-old calls down the hall. He's singing a song about… I don't know.

Was I on the 7th or 8th "Hail Mary"?

I imagine Martha catching glimpses of Jesus' conversation as she makes dinner in the kitchen. It reminds me of my weekly Mass experience, catching glimpses of the liturgy as I quiet kids and resolve sibling pew rivalries with a set jaw and silent shouts from my eyes.

A kid is coughing. I wonder if my allergy kid is getting sick or just announcing an impending weather change. I should wash his sheets.

"Hail Mary, full of grace…"

Fifth decade.

The house is silent. I can hear the clock ticking.

Then, "Woo-woo-woo. Aaaah!" in muffled tones down the hall. It's the sound of a three-year-old's face singing into a pillow as his sleepy head can no longer hold itself up.

"Our Father who art in heaven…"

My own tiredness feels heavy. I think about the dishes that still need to be washed in the sink.

"Hail Mary… blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus… pray for us..."

It occurs to me that Jesus didn't see Martha as a cook or a hostess or a housekeeper. He told her to stop doing all of that.

But Martha had a household to run. She had a living room full of guests. And no one was doing a damn thing to help her meet all these needs. "Jesus, I need help!" she says.

"Mommy? What do I do if I need to go to the bathroom?" my 9-year-old whisper-calls from the dog couch.

"You can go down the hall quietly. Please don't flush the toilet. You'll wake up your brothers."

"Hail Mary, full of grace…"

Jesus doesn't respond to her request for help by sending all the women to the kitchen to finish cooking. He doesn't tell Martha to suck it up and get it done alone. Jesus would rather cancel dinner altogether than have women miss out on spiritual discussion.

Glub, glub, glub. The dog's water bowl unexpectedly auto-fills behind me, and it shakes me from my contemplation.

I'm sad that the rosary's ending. The story's not done.

What about the meal? Jesus, who's going to make dinner if Martha sits down to talk with you? How will the people eat?! This part of the story always panics me. Can you tell I'm Italian?

I hear the quiet snores of my 9-year-old finally asleep on the couch.

"... grant, we beseech Thee, that meditating on these mysteries of the most holy rosary, we may imitate what they contain…"

My house is so quiet. I slowly stand up to get started on the dishes in the sink... school lunches for tomorrow... a last load of laundry always waiting in the dryer… the work just doesn't end.

Is it really possible for me to choose the contemplative life with all this work to be done? Lord?

I don't know for sure what happened that late afternoon in Bethany when Jesus told Martha that she was invited to join the conversation instead of labor alone in the kitchen.

I believe Martha stopped in her busyness to rest with the Lord, to enjoy his presence and conversation.

But then, I also believe -- and this is just a random mom's rosary contemplation, so take it or leave it -- that just as everyone was getting good and hangry and ready for dinner, Jesus himself got up to help prepare the meal.

After all, he's a pragmatist. According to the Bible, Jesus did all kinds of teaching while participating in the daily routines of life -- fishing, cooking, traveling, eating… Lots of ministry happened over meals, even meals that He prepared.

"Everyone seems kind of hungry. Let's continue this conversation in the kitchen!" ...or something like that.

My house is quiet, the kitchen's a mess, and my rosary's ended.

But I don't think Jesus wants to stay tucked neatly into this small contemplative pocket of a busy day. He plans to keep the conversation going over dishes and laundry and whatever else this day brings... 

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

"Unplanned" -- Effective Pro-Life Work & Conversations [A Movie Review]

Issues so personal as pregnancy and loss aren't something to talk about lightly.

Add to that a national pro-life movement that's rife with internal strategy wars and inconsistent politicization, and I didn't have high hopes for "Unplanned."

But overall first impression? I liked it.

"Unplanned" tells the story of Abby Johnson's gradual transition from pro-choice to pro-life advocacy after many years as a clinical director at Planned Parenthood in Bryan, Texas.

From the beginning, this movie gives pro-life advocates the freedom to disagree with one another over approach.

Marilisa is a young volunteer with the Coalition For Life, an organization that prays quietly outside the fence surrounding Planned Parenthood. She agrees with Abby that the graphic signs and rudeness of other well-intentioned pro-lifers are completely ineffective. This scene reminded me of the times I've shared common ground with pro-choice advocates, agreeing with their dismay at the rhetoric or actions of those who claim pro-life values.

An interview with the real-life Marilisa Carney discusses how her pro-life advocacy has changed through different seasons of life. After many years of full-time ministry, Marilisa's current pro-life work is raising her kids, "cultivating a pro-life culture in our homes," as she says. I find encouragement in this idea that our pro-life advocacy could be as simple as living our lives where we are.

Each person in the movie who identifies as pro-life lives out that belief differently. Everyone doesn't work at the crisis pregnancy resource center. Everyone doesn't pray outside Planned Parenthood. Everyone doesn't intensively take on every conversational opportunity to push their pro-life beliefs on anyone who will listen.

Not once in this movie did a change of heart come from conflict, anger, or a dismissive witty jab. Which brings me to the next takeaway that I'd do well to take to heart…

"Unplanned" illustrates how conversion comes through quiet moments, supportive conversation, and established relationships of mutual respect.

I don't usually watch R-rated movies. I don't like graphic violence or gore, especially the out-of-context images that get stuck in my head. (I saw "The Passion of the Christ" because I used to support the idea that we can't fully appreciate Jesus' sacrifice unless we see it represented as close to its actual horror as possible. I no longer feel this way.)

"Unplanned" has a lot of blood: a particularly disturbing bathroom scene after Abby experiences a chemical abortion and a bloody clinic scene after a teenage girl hemorrhages from a perforated uterus during an abortion. Having given birth several times, and having seen the incredible bloody mess that it makes, I don't think the amount of blood involved was overstated.

In my completely amateur movie reviewer opinion, the MPAA rating is straight-up accurate.

"Unplanned" isn't strongly political. As a pro-life person who's advocated
that someone can vote -- in good conscience -- Republican or Democrat with the intent to decrease abortion in America, I appreciated that the movie itself steered clear of specific politics. I sporadically follow Abby Johnson on social media, and from what I've seen, she regularly offends people from both ends of the political spectrum in her attempts to be consistently pro-life. (Personally, I appreciate that.)

Unfortunately, the marketing company that promoted "Unplanned" on Twitter used the movie's account to "like" a POTUS tweet regarding an irrelevant political issue -- citizenship and the census.

This seems particularly out of touch with pro-life values since undocumented immigrants are more vulnerable to the desperate situations that lead to abortion. Birth Choice, a pro-life crisis pregnancy resource center in Oklahoma, shared that 70 percent of the women who come to them for help are Spanish-speaking, and many among them, undocumented. Regardless, Birth Choice helps every woman.

"Unplanned" went to such great lengths in its scripting and production to appeal to a bipartisan audience with the message that real pro-lifers care about helping both a woman and her child through whatever crisis they're facing. Given this, it seems counterintuitive at best and hypocritical at worst for the movie to take an intentional public political position on social media against immigrants who are currently in America illegally.

(I'm hopeful it was the dumb mistake of an errant marketing intern who forgot to log out of his company's account before scrolling through his own. If that's the case, it should have been publicly acknowledged and retracted, perhaps with an apology for distracting from actual pro-life conversation around the movie.)

I digress. Let's bring this home.

As a pro-life advocate, I've spent Saturdays praying on sidewalks outside Planned Parenthood clinics. I've brought my young children with me to vigils outside the fence.

While praying, I've watched clinic volunteers meet women at their cars to escort them safely inside. It seems ironic. So many volunteers, men and women, giving up their Saturdays -- rosaries on one side of the fence, yellow vests on the other -- each group believing the worst about those on the other side, each group wanting to protect vulnerable women from being manipulated by those on the other side.

For what it's worth, I've been on both sides of that fence.

When I was unexpectedly pregnant with my first beautiful son, I took a pregnancy test at a Planned Parenthood, and they helped me get healthcare coverage for prenatal care.

The front desk and billing people were impersonal and matter-of-fact, like any medical front office (including my pro-life Catholic ob-gyn and nearly every other doctor our family has ever used). But the nurses and counselors at Planned Parenthood were kind and patient (as are most nurses everywhere).

Granted, they charged me $25 for a simple urine pregnancy test that probably cost them a quarter. And once I turned down counseling for abortion or adoption, they couldn't really do anything else for me.

But that brief visit at Planned Parenthood is what made prenatal care accessible to me. (I'd already been turned down as a patient by several local ob-gyns and hospitals due to inability to pay.) Planned Parenthood provided the confirmation of pregnancy form that helped me qualify for Medicaid.

Throughout the movie, Planned Parenthood workers and volunteers are portrayed as compassionate to the difficult situations of the women who come through their doors and committed to a cause for better women's healthcare.

Planned Parenthood corporate, on the other hand -- as personified through Abby's ruthless regional director -- is depicted to a near caricature extreme of greed and immorality.

This bipolar tug-of-war between compassion and greed is intended to vilify Planned Parenthood, suggesting a true healthcare provider would never prioritize profits over patients. And yet, I found it an all too familiar summary of most healthcare in America.

Whether it's my children's orthodontist, pediatric neurosurgeon, ENT, anesthesiologists, or just primary care providers, I've experienced the same seemingly unethical medical practices ascribed to Planned Parenthood in this movie: encouraged to put unaffordable care on credit cards, urged to pursue aggressive, more expensive treatments than may be necessary, and treated like cattle in an over-scheduled day surgery clinic.

So it seems disingenuous to indict Planned Parenthood for operating from a profit-driven model of care when most medical providers in America -- providers who also file as "non-profits" -- treat patients exactly the same way.

If, however, we're to shut down Planned Parenthood explicitly for its abortion practices, that's a different and more honest conversation. Let's talk about that.

As someone who's personally benefited from the low-income women's healthcare provisions of Planned Parenthood, and as someone with friends who access STI testing and wellness services from the same clinic, I have to ask, when it comes to shutting down abortion providers, why Planned Parenthood? Why is Planned Parenthood targeted specifically for extensive regulation and political posturing around the issue of abortion?

I ask because there is a very profitable, large-scale abortion provider in the United States -- not Planned Parenthood -- that is almost completely self-regulated and enjoys unlimited bipartisan support. No one protests or prays outside their fences. And in fact, many leading "pro-life" politicians have offered their unwavering support. I'm talking about fertility clinics.

The process of in vitro fertilization [IVF] creates 15-20 embryos in each process, of which only 1-2 are implanted. The rest (~86% of created embryos) are disposed of as medical "waste," indefinitely frozen in storage, or donated to science. While the abortion rate in women’s clinics has declined steadily over the years, the CDC estimates, as of 2015, nearly 1 in 50 children are born through assisted reproductive technology. As of 2014, Texas had 28 clinics that offer abortion. Texas currently has 78 fertility clinics.

I don't bring up fertility clinics to deflect from the harmful reality of abortion at low-income women's health clinics, but simply to question our contemporary pro-lif
e priorities. Why is it that poor people getting abortions are vilified to the extent that society feels it's better to shut down basic health services in under-resourced areas -- services that reportedly are not being met by other low-income clinics once Planned Parenthood closes -- while the wealthy are free to dabble, create, and destroy unborn human life with impunity?

Again, and please, believe me, I am not trying to shut down pro-life advocacy here. I am trying to help us see our blind spots, hopefully in a way that can help us understand why some in the pro-choice movement might interpret our pro-life intentions as disingenuous and inconsistent.

I've heard there are inconsistencies to Abby's story -- whether her assistance in an ultrasound-guided abortion happened as described, whether her employee record was as stellar as she claims. To be honest, the contested details seem inconsequential to me.

I've gotten myself too entangled in a story before, mixing up a strict timeline of events for the heart of the story I'm trying to tell. I've left a job at the same time that the job was ready for me to leave.

I'm not ascribing any of these explanations to Abby's situation. But I don't think the discrepancy issues raised are large enough to undermine the reality of her testimony: a woman who dedicated her life to caring for women by providing abortion access had a change of heart and now runs a non-profit organization, And Then There Were None, that helps employees at abortion clinics transition to new jobs.

The greatest takeaway from "Unplanned" is its statement on the power of relationship. When we find ourselves on polar ends of an issue with family, friends, or activist strangers, a belief in the good intentions of the other goes far. I think this might be an effective place for quality pro-life / pro-choice dialogue to begin.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Leticia Ochoa Adams Interview!

It was so awesome to meet Leticia Ochoa Adams in person at the FemCatholic conference last March! She's an amazing woman with an amazing story.

We were absolutely captivated by her words. She had us laughing and crying, then laughing, then crying... what a life she has lived and is living.

I had the opportunity to interview Leticia after the conference, and she shared so much of her heart. Here's an excerpt from the interview:

A chapter you wrote for The Catholic Hipster Handbook includes the confession that you started attending RCIA only to get your “Catholic badge” so your live-in boyfriend would marry you. What drew you further into Catholicism?

LOA: My RCIA director was honest about his past and how he was addicted to heroin. He is also very much in love with Jesus and talks about Christ like He is real, and I wanted that.
Also, I was drawn in by being loved and treated like a person, instead of being reduced to my mistakes, by the people God put in my life from the very beginning of my conversion: my RCIA director, Noe Rocha, and my two priests, Fr. Jonathan (Fr. J) and Fr. Dean. These three men became my spiritual fathers. They accepted me as I was and never judged me.
Fr. J helped get me into therapy and was one of the first people in my life to tell me that the trauma of being sexually abused as child was the root cause of so many of my choices in life. He told me that God wanted to heal me. I felt seen and not judged in his office.

Read the rest over at FemCatholic!

Friday, March 22, 2019

Any 4-Year-Old Can Sous Chef: A Catholic Parent's Guide To Family-Style Cooking

Turn off that TV! Throw open those baby gates! And gather your hangry offspring to the stickiest room in your home --

It's 4:00 PM on a school night and time to cook family-style!

Cooking is praying twice, so don't let your little ones miss this holy hour. If your baby's napping, get them awake and to the kitchen! "Tired" is just devil-slang for sloth.

And don't be fooled, parents. If your baby can open a child-safety-locked kitchen cabinet, he can chop an onion. (Now, I don't personally cook with onions because I don't allow that kind of emotional manipulation into my home and particularly my kitchen. Nevertheless, any 4-year-old with a Santoku can sous chef.)

The more kids you line up on that counter assembly line -- just crowd them in like a family pew on Sunday -- the more mysterious nutrition they will cram into that holy feast. And oh, how our God works in mysterious ways. Just look down your row of sweet surprise babies. Mysterious ways.

Chop, chop, chop, little ones! Oh, you are worried and anxious about so many things, dear chef. Let them at that board with tired eyes and clumsy hands. Do not their guardian angels stand near?

Now you may be tempted to lose your joy as you shepherd little lambs through holy family cooking hour. But claim the dinner victory! Get your domestic church choir singing, so the joy, joy, joy, joy can fill up your kitchen!

And yet, guard your hearts, pious parents, lest that kitchen joy turn careless. Can the Lord be glorified by crumbly meatloaf and soupy sauce? Bless your heart, no -- no more than He could delight in frozen chicken nuggets or unplated bananas. Let your food be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.

This holy family cooking hour, more than any other moment of the day, trains up your children in the way they should go. Do you want your baby boy -- see how heartily he rips kale from stalk to pot! -- living in your basement when he's 30? Then you best not put that butter from the fridge to the microwave. (Yes, I see it flaunts a "soften" button like a nursery sign at Sunday Mass, but so also did the Garden of Eden have that damn tree of knowledge. Don't touch it, don't let your children touch it, and for heaven's sake, don't serve it to your family.)

Can you feel the joy of cooking family-style?

The plating of your children's meals will reveal the purest revelation of a parent's soul. Have you created a merry meatball mouse leaping on a landscape of pea grass and whipped russet clouds, a vision of the heaven that doubtless awaits you? Or does the gloppy abyss of hell leak runaway gravy into your smutty stack of scallops? Do not be weighed and found wanting in the artistry of family dinner, chef.  What will little Joseph's dinner tell the world of your eternal destiny?

And finally, let us be clear: hell hath no fury than toward the parent who leads a child astray in prematurely mixing ingredients simply to avoid the just and natural work of washing every cup, bowl, pot, and plate in the house after dinner. Better a millstone around your neck than to leave a container unused or a cabinet unemptied during family cooking hour.

Be blessed, chef. Be blessed.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Three Hours One Thursday: My Life in Questions

Can I please have a bandaid?
Can you fix the dinosaur keychain on my backpack?
Can I work on crafts?
Can you help me find the dart for my Nerf gun?
Can I get my blanket?
Can I wear my bathrobe instead of a jacket?
Can I eat a piece of candy from the carnival?
Can I share my candy with my brothers?
Can I have medicine for my ear?
Can you clean my ear?
Can we have noodles for dinner?
Can we have no sauce, just parmesan cheese?
Can I have cucumbers for lunch tomorrow?
Can we watch a movie?
Can we watch a movie on the big screen?
Can you fix my glasses?
When are my new glasses coming in?
Did you wash my jacket?
Can we have marshmallows for a snack?
Am I allergic to marshmallows?
Can we find my show-and-tell for tomorrow?
Can I bring popcorn to school?
Can I eat this?
Can I have an ice pack for my arm?
Do you have classes tomorrow?
Are you coming to my reward lunch at school?
Is Dad coming?
Can I go to Joseph's reward lunch too?
Can the dog come in?
Can I leave my toys set up until tomorrow?
Can I have a Kleenex?
Can you clean my glasses?
Can I flush the toilet?
Whose poop is in the toilet?
Why doesn't he flush the toilet?
Are you proud of me?
Are we having waffles for breakfast?
Are we having oatmeal for breakfast?
Can we have waffles for breakfast tomorrow?
Why can't we have oatmeal for breakfast today?
Can you make oatmeal for breakfast tomorrow?
Can I wear shorts?
Can I wear my Bob the Builder shirt?
Can you do laundry today?
Can I put on my own shoes and socks?
Can you help me with my socks?
Can I put on my own jacket?
Can you help me with my jacket?
Do I have a lunch today?
Can we play at the park?
Can we ride our bikes in the street today?
Can I wear roller skates?
Can I wear roller skates in the street?
Can you help me put on my roller skates?
Can you take off my roller skates?
Can you put air in this ball?
Can you put air in this [other] ball?
Can you make cheese and crackers for lunch?
Can I have peanut butter crackers for dinner?
Can I have noodles for dinner?
Can you put my ice pack away?
Can you help me with my underwear?
Can I empty my potty by myself?
Can you make my brother play with me?
Can you get me the cars?
Can I get the pipes out of the closet?
Can you read this to me?
Can we watch "Paw Patrol?" Can we watch "VeggieTales?" Can we watch "American Ninja Warrior?"
Can you get the glue?
Can I get more glue?
Can you clean my scissors?
Can I have paper?
Can I have more paper?
Can you help me clean up my cars?
Did you sew my shirt?
When's my doctor's appointment?
Are you sending money to school for me?
Can we march with our school in the parade?
Can I bring the Box Tops to school tomorrow?
Why does he get to bring the Box Tops to school?
How many Box Tops do we have?
Can we take them down and count them?
What are we bringing to the potluck on Saturday?
Are we bringing food to Bible study tomorrow?
Can I carry it?
Can I sit in the front seat when we go to church tomorrow?
When's the next time we're going to Mommom's house?
Can we play at the rec center today?
Can you get my special rosary?
Can you check my hurt finger?
Can I have a new bandaid?
Why is there smoke on the stove?
Why is the stove hot?
Can I have something else?
Why isn't it dinner time?
Why aren't you making dinner?
Can I check the mail?
Why isn't the mail here yet?
When will the mail come?
Can you find my yellow truck?
Did you trash my yellow truck?
Where's my yellow truck?
For my birthday [in 9 months], can I have chocolate cake with blueberries?
For my birthday [in 11 months], can I have chocolate chip pancakes?
For my birthday [in 8 months], can I go to Chuck E. Cheese by myself, just me and Dad?
What are you making for dinner?
Is there dog poop outside?
Can I have my allergy medicine?
Can I have that cream you put on my face?
Can I have chapstick?
Do you like my hat?
Can I play with this toy on my thumb?
Can I only eat with one hand?
Do I need a bath?
Do I need a shower?
Why do I need a shower?
Do you remember when Daddy gave me a fish bandaid?
Will you buy more fish bandaids?
Can I go outside?
Can I come inside?
Can you only close the door a little bit?
Can I put my bathrobe here?
Why do I have to put it away?
Why can't I play in the kitchen?
Why are you making that?
Can I set the table?
Why can he set the table?
Why are we watching this?
How come he gets to choose?
Can I wait to brush my teeth?
Can I get more toothpaste?
Don't the Great Lakes have a lock system, like the Panama Canal?
Can we visit there someday?
Can we record this show?
Can you look this up for me?
Why did you make this kind of noodle?
Can I have just applesauce for dinner?
Can I play games on the computer?
Can I have just noodles, no sauce, for dinner?
Is this live TV?
Can you pause the TV?
Why is there water all over the cooktop?
Is Daddy at work?
What time will Daddy be home from work?
Can you close the curtains?
Can I have a different blanket?
Can I sleep on your bed?
Can I sleep on Joshua's bed?
Is this an airplane?
Is this red?
Can we play CandyLand?
Can I play Monopoly by myself?
Can you clean my underwear?
Do you like what I made?
Is this a police car?
Will they have childcare at church?
Why don't we make a schedule for who gets to check the mail every day?
Is that a good idea?
Can I use these new craft supplies for a project?
Were you thinking about me when you bought these?
But they're for everybody, right?
When's the next school holiday?
Is that real or pretend?
Can you untangle this yarn?
Can I have my camera?
Where's the string?
Can I borrow your good scissors?
Can I sleep on Mom and Dad's bed?
Can I have peanut butter crackers after I eat my noodles?
Where's the string?
Can I bring my blanket to the living room?
Can you staple this for me?
Did the dog throw up?
Can we watch a movie while we eat?
Why can't we eat now?
Can you fill in the hole in the backyard?
Can you do it now?
Can I fill in the hole?
Did you know salmon can swim across flooded roads?
Is it just a little bit of poop?
Is it big poop?
Can you clean it?
Can you find the magnet letter P?
Can you find the card letter P?
Can you put them in my show-and-tell bag for tomorrow?
Can I wear the dalmation costume for the 101st day of school tomorrow?
Is this blue-and-white or black-and-white?
Can you make a dalmation shirt for me for school tomorrow?
What do I have that's black and white?
Can I feed him the old dog food?
Is the dog sick because he eats too fast?
Do you know where my rubber bands are?
Can we read the story of David?
Can we read the story of Jonathan?
Where's the burning bush?
What time will we wake up in the morning?
What are you making for breakfast?
Can we have waffles?
Can we have oatmeal?
Can you fold my blanket?
Can I have another hug and kiss?
Why did you let us bring candy to school on December 7th but not tomorrow?
What is wind?
Are you talking about tornadoes?
If God wants us to stand strong and not change direction, then doesn't that mean we shouldn't try new foods?
Can we have a piece of candy before school tomorrow?
Why can't we do the school fundraiser?
If I earn the money, can I do the school fundraiser?
Do you know where Jupiter is?
Do you know what happens if an asteroid hits the earth?
Can I choose a different book to read?
Why can't I read with my brother?
Can the dog sleep with us?
Do you know where my stuffed animal is?
Why is my stuffed animal in the closet?


Mom, are you writing down everything we say?