Friday, October 31, 2014

All Hallow's Eve: Seven Quick Takes

These are three of my most favorite days in the Liturgical Calendar: All Hallow's Eve, All Saint's Day, and All Souls day.  The wisdom of the Church touches my heart every year - we contemplate our death in a profound way, and then before we know it, there is Advent; the arrival of a Savior.

Here are Seven Quick Takes about what's going on for us as we celebrate these special Fall days!

-1-
Last weekend we attended our homeschool group's All Saint's Day party.  It was such a time of fellowship and fun for the children AND adults!  My sweet friend Blair has some lovely pictures of all the socializing that went on, but here are a few of my crew:
Gab (St. Bernadette) and Joe (St. George) decorating sugar cookies at "St. Martha's Baking" booth (which was manned and prepared by my dear friend L. and me! It seemed to be a hit with the children, but next year MORE sprinkles!)
Colette dressed as St. Giana.
More pics to come...hopefully I can put up an All Saint's post later, as we have another big party and Mass to celebrate tomorrow!

-2-
Wednesday night we observed our yearly family tradition of watching The Nightmare Before Christmas, followed by Jack-o-Lantern pizza from Papa Murphy's, apple cider (some years it's hot chocolate), and pumpkin carving.
What I've learned from past experience, however, is that pumpkin carving isn't really that fun for my young kids.  So, Charlie and I carved pumpkins and the children painted mini pumpkins.
After all the carving fun, we roast the seeds with Worcestershire sauce and kosher salt.
We also watched a funny documentary about Honey Badgers, just...cause we felt like it.  haha

-3-
Today we took the day off of school in observance of All Saint's Day.  Errands were run and the girls helped me clean up the house (which is surprisingly fast these days).  Now they are watching the DVD from Colette and Gabrielle's ballet performance in May (which totally makes me cry!) while I cook up a storm with little breaks in between to blog.
On tonight's menu: Rosemary Beef Stew and cornbread (which we'll be slathering with Kerrygold Butter - a subject I found my Instagram followers to be very passionate about! Wow!).  I'm also cooking lasagna sauce so that I can put together a lasagna tomorrow to take to the All Saint's party (oh, and pumpkin pie!).  It smells amazing in here!
Don't you love Autumn cooking?  Thankfully it's actually NOT hot today.  What joy.

-4-
I'm registering for the Thanksgiving Day 3 mile run here in town again.  I had hoped to do the 5 mile run, but we really must be realistic.  By then I'll be almost 25 weeks pregnant.  I just hope I can run a whole 3 miles, even if it's really slow.
Anyway, this race has a special place in my heart because when I did it last year, I realized that all of my work had been paying off, and it gave me the courage to bite to bullet and register for my first triathlon.  That tri was huge for me, and it continues to be (being the non-athlete, perpetually pregnant woman that I am) because thinking about doing another one after little Adelaide is born is what prevents me from stuffing my face with cookies.
Next Fall I plan to go for it again, probably an easier one, and then my first half marathon in January 2016.  That seems so long from now.  But my choices now will dictate what happens after the birth of this baby.  I hope I can do it again.
I miss seeing this gear in my laundry room!


-5-
Here's a gratuitous photo of part of today's lunch.  Seriously easy (thank you Pinterest search, "Healthy Halloween") and a total mom win.  Yay.

-6-
While we do go out trick-or-treating, Halloween is not my most favorite of holidays to spend money on, so costumes largely come out of the dress up box.  This year we have:
- a ballerina (yay!  another use for very expensive recital costumes!)
- a knight
- Nancy Drew
- Lucy from I Love Lucy
and
- a ballerina/princess/pretty pretty girl mashup.

The girls were asking me what I dressed up as for Halloween as a girl.  I honestly don't remember for the most part, but I remember being once a baker, a ballerina, and trick-or-treating in my pajamas.

After we take a turn around the neighborhood, we'll watch It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, which is honestly my favorite part of the whole day.  I love you forever, Charlie Brown.
my favorite knight
-7-
So, is it actually OK for Catholics to engage in the Halloween fun?
My take is yes, with a little bit of scare (case in point: the movie choices above, some fun reading, a healthy dose of "yes we're gonna die") but very little gore (save stories of the martyrs, there's plenty of gore in there).  Nothing that can be construed as part of the occult.  We won't touch that with a 10-foot-pole.
BUT, if you're wondering more about why I find it harmless to visit our neighbors, eat lots of chocolate, and prepare ourselves to be very grateful for our friends, the Saints, in Heaven, here's a great article entitled, "The Long, Twisted Story of All Hallows Eve."

When it comes to the “pagan origins” of Halloween, it turns out there is nothing there. Halloween is a product of Christian culture — and mostly American Christian culture — through and through. Where it is most ancient, it is least pagan — and most deeply Catholic.
Have a fun night, friends!

(Visit Jen for more Quick Takes!)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Am I Too Busy? {Stepping on My Soap Box}

"How are you doing?"

"Busy."

Busy.  We're all busy.  Answering a genuine inquiry to how things are going with "busy," to me, is like saying "I'm alive."  Or, "I'm breathing."  Sorta obvious.
But, what "busy" really says to me is, "too busy to engage in authentic conversation."

"Busy" is a word I want to dash from my vocabulary, never to breathe it out again.  If you talk with me and I say "I've been busy," please kick me in the shin.

When I'm so busy that I've lost sight of what's important, truly important, is when I give an answer like this.  When I'm so busy that my self-worth is wrapped up in my "busyness" is when I give an answer like this.  When I'm so busy that I can't order my life rightly, is when I must declare how very busy busy busy I am.

The other day (Monday), the Gospel reading from Luke told the story of the old woman weighed down by demons who Jesus cured on the Sabbath.  "She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself."  In In Conversation with God, I learned that St. Augustine stated that "She is a symbol of those who have their hearts set on the things of this world."  This was something I had never heard, and it got me back to thinking more and more about my distaste for the word "busy."

"Busyness" symbolizes to me, largely, the things of this world.  They are things that are passing, not necessarily meaningless, but maybe less important than the greater good.  What are greater goods?  In my estimation, the greater goods encompass focusing most on God (prayer, worship, spiritual reading, etc.) and on other people (spending quality time together, engaging in conversation, serving others, etc.).

If I'm too busy to pray, or too busy to make it to Mass, or too busy to engage in conversation with my loved one who is pursuing my time - it's time to reassess. (Guilty.)

While figuring out time management is a key aspect to not feeling like we are rushing through this life toward...(what?) is quite important, so is the mindset around "busyness".

"In this way does our existence fall prey unconditionally to the third enemy: pride of life.  It's not merely a question of passing thoughts of vanity or self-love, it's a state of general conceit.  Let's not deceive ourselves, for this is the worst of all evils, the root of every false step." -St. Josemaria Escriva
 Pride of life.  Vanity.  Self-love.  General conceit.  Ouch.

But if we are honest with ourselves, if we truly reflect on the fact that sometimes priorities can get misaligned, or if we forget that our value and dignity does not lie in what we can "do," I suspect that we can focus on taking care of our necessary life tasks with the humility of knowing that they do not define us.

I do not want "busy" to define me.

I'm a wife, a mother to 5 young children, a pregnant woman, a full time keeper of home, the sole decision maker and executioner of the education of our children, a friend, a blogger, the cook, the errand-runner, the laundress, a runner (ha! on good days!), a reader, a member of my community, all of these things.  You are many things too.  We all are.

But I don't want to be too busy.  I don't want my to-do lists and (truly important tasks) to devolve into "general conceit."  It's hard to see them as such, since they are so necessary, no?  But I believe they can.  I believe they do when you ask me, with true interest and care, "how are you?" and my answer, be it vocally or by my actions, is "busy."


Friday, October 24, 2014

Rising to God

My dreams fall in to one of three categories: 1) water dreams where I or someone I love is drowning or at risk of drowning, 2) really odd dreams that make no sense (like, what was up with the baby snake trying to eat my hand the other night??), and 3) dreams about music - these follow a typical pattern and are pretty much exactly the same every time, and have been for years.

Last night, one of my haunting music dreams chased me through the night - reminding me of what I've lost, what I've given up, driving me to tears, to prayer, to wonder.

As a girl, I discovered my great love for choral music and I only grew in that love and in that great talent as I got older.  Now that much of my muscle memory and skills are lost, I think it is not vain to say that had God given me an amazing gift.  It was a gift that sustained me, focused me, increased my humanity, and constantly, consistently through it's beauty lifted my soul to God.  As beauty does.

All this to say...I miss it.

I sat at my computer in front of Spotify for about an hour with Joe today just listening...

...Allegri's Miserere

...Rachmaninov's Vespers (particularly the 5th movement, which was on my mind, Nyne otpushchaeshi)

...Vivaldi's Gloria (Joe LOVED the first movement, I think we listened to it three times in a row)

At this point, it's been many more years lapsed than I even spent in the world of music.  I continue to love it, and it brings me such genuine joy to watch as my sisters and my daughters fall into this never ending chasm of love.

However, sitting here listening to Ave verum corpus feels insufficient to me.  Appreciating it doesn't quite feel like enough.

But...vocations, and babies, and "seasons of life" and all that...  Everyone says "someday you can go back."  I have a sense that someday probably won't really happen.  How can it?  I say this not with a sense of hopelessness, I promise.  This was not just a passing hobby, or something that I enjoyed once upon a time - it's something that infused itself upon my soul.  And why?  What was the purpose?  To what end did I put forth such great effort into an absolute love...only to walk away?

I don't know the answers to these things, but I do know that my soul continues to ache.  Days like today, after the dreams - I am consumed.  Sometimes there are tears.  Often there are prayers, asking God to take away the pang, and if somehow, someway He has given me this gift for something else in life that he would show it to me, because right now, there remains a fermata shaped hole in my heart.

The acoustics were beyond words.  It was as if the music just floated out of us and rose to God. -From my journal April 19, 2000 after singing in St. Paul's Cathedral in London
This very well may be something to live with always, something very, very large that I am invited to offer to our Lord in prayerful sacrifice.  It may be that Tennyson was quite correct when he exhorted, "Tis better to have loved and lost, Than never to have loved at all."

My great comfort is that not even music - not even my children and husband (my greatest loves), my friends, my family, my home, my interests - none of these things will ever bring me true happiness.  My comfort is that I know right where to turn:
"It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you." Pope St. John Paul II


Thursday, October 23, 2014

(Early) Seven Quick Takes: Baby Theme

I've been a bit under the weather this week, which is always special while pregnant because I can't take any medicines (not that I really want to) and my immunity is not as strong these 40 weeks (when I was expecting Joe I had strep throat so bad that I had to have two rounds of antibiotics - it was horrible).  Yesterday, I texted Charlie lamenting the fact that I can't call in a substitute teacher so that I can rest.  So, we went to the library (and had a little civics lesson while we were there to explain the early voting going on), Trader Joe's and out for lunch.  We listened to The Magician's Nephew while driving around town, relieving my sore throat from out-loud reading!  Then we came home and I slept and slept and slept.

I awoke with a bell and a note exhorting me to ring it to "call the nurse" if I need anything.  Sweet, tenderhearted girls.  Even though we ended up taking the day off of school, I was amazed at how the girls spent their time while I was sleeping: reading entire chapter books fresh from the library, teaching themselves and younger sisters how to draw ocean animals (also from a book from the library), running highly scientific experiments on Ruby the Dachshund (Nana's dog that is visiting while she travels), and making keen nature observations out the big window of the school room.  Not a wasted day, as far as education goes, I suppose.

Anyway, today we have a lot to catch up on, but the big girls are engaged in independent school work and the little ones are playing, so I thought I'd write an early Seven Quick Takes: Baby Theme.

-1-
Blessedly, I have found a midwife that I just love and I'm thrilled to pieces with the birth plan.  Things were looking grim there for a while, I was so afraid I'd have to settle on the hospital or birth center (which is actually quite lovely and wonderful, but wasn't a great fit for me).  We met with her a few weeks ago and decided to hire her on the spot.  She's a wonderful lady with lots and lots of experience.  I felt immediately comfortable and at ease.  Not long after that initial meeting, I was able to have my first prenatal appointment and last weekend, my anatomy scan ultrasound.
We are once again planning the birth at home, which is what I am happiest and most comfortable with.  Even though this isn't my first rodeo, I'm still continually shocked at how much more human midwifery care has been than OB/GYN care in the past.  Not that a good OB can not be found, but there is so much I appreciate about a midwife that simply is impossible with an OB.
I'm trying really hard to kick my breakfast cereal habit this time!  I just CRAVE it while I'm pregnant!  BUT, when I do succumb, at least it's with pretty reasonable cereal - not Apple Jacks.  Or Lucky Charms.  No wonder I gained so much pregnancy weight in the past.  Duh.
-2-
The scale I store in my closet suddenly died, so I hadn't weighed myself the entire pregnancy.  So when it was time to step on the scale at that first appointment, I was shocked, SHOCKED to see that I had only gained the recommended amount, and not more (which is much more typical for me).  I'm not sure why I was *so* shocked, because even as of today, as I am on the brink of 20 weeks, I'm still in my regular jeans.  Button and all.
I just really pray that this continues, because I don't want to have to loose a ton of weight again after this baby to get back into running and triathlon shape.
More of this.  (Actually, brussels sprouts typically cause a riot at my house.)
-3- 
I didn't feel like tracking calories and every single thing I ate or did during pregnancy, because to me, it's disheartening to watch the scale go up and not down.  I got pretty used to that.
SO, I found this fun app called Two Grand where you just snap a pic of each meal/snack/extra drink and track your water intake (VERY helpful).  I can tell at a glance how I'm doing each day.
I'm noticing already that I need to eat way, way, way more veggies - even though I do eat several, tons of fruit, tons of water, good protein, few grains.
I think it's Smoothie:30.  Gotta get those in.
Anyway, the only drawback to Two Grand is that it looks like I'm constantly Instagramming my meals since I'm taking pictures, but I promise I'm not!  I'm just trying to keep myself and this little person super healthy.  I've enjoyed finding other pregnant mamas to see how they are cooking/eating as well.  I love that it's not like Facebook or Instagram or My Fitness Pal - I don't know any of these people.  haha
Here's a screenshot....so much easier than typing in everything I eat!


-4-
This weekend I'll be 20 weeks, that's "half way," though I know I'll probably go late.
I think that means that I'll need to finally pull out the maternity clothes, and take the birthing books off the shelf.  


-5-
If you are pregnant, ever been pregnant, or ever plan on being pregnant, here is a lovely article from Verily: A Mother-to-Be's Guide to Emotional Well-Being During Pregnancy.  
“It is happening within you. It is you.”The connection between unborn baby and carrying mother is one we give airtime to, but that can be difficult to feel without developing tangible ways to foster that connection.

Because being pregnant is not really my most favorite of human experiences, I have a tendency to do what I can to not think about it (the pregnancy, not the baby - the baby is obviously my favorite part!) very much.  This was a thought-provoking and beautiful read.

-6-
Oh!  Also.  As I mentioned, we got to see our sweet baby on ultrasound last weekend.  Baby looked very healthy, due date looked spot on, and we found out that baby #6 is....
another GIRL baby!  Yay!  We love girls.  :-)

-7-
Their signs say, "G-I-R-L" but it's hard to tell.

Joe said, "no!  Baby brother!"
But, he's come around and talks about his baby sister.
We're about 99% sure baby girl's name is Adelaide Elizabeth.

I've long loved the name Adelaide, and what a noble and lovely Saint (also the patroness of parents of large families!).  Elizabeth is after St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, who is an intercessor for our parish, was a mother and a teacher, and whose feast day is on my own birthday!  My faith was also fostered when I was younger in St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish growing up.  :-) (OH!  Elizabeth is also one of my sweet little sister's middle names!)

Now....I promise not to write another entire post about pregnancy.....
at least for a while.

Please visit Jen for more Quick Takes.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A Shower of Roses

It is October 1, the feast of St. Therese, our dear and beautiful friend in heaven.  Truly, she makes her prayers well known to those of us who know her (and probably for those who don't, as is evidenced by one of my stories below!).  I'm reposting my post from 5 years ago telling some of my stories about St. Therese.  I know many people with beautiful stories about how she so evidently prayed for them as well.
The "recent" story I speak of in the following post was around a miscarriage I had directly before my pregnancy with Serafina (Serafina Therese!).  It was a time of grace and peace that I didn't expect.  (I still don't want to write the story, but I don't mind telling it to friends.  :-) )  In the time since then, she has continued to be a dear friend, and powerful intercessor.  Only a year ago, I am convinced that her prayers helped to end one of the most tumultuous times in the history of our family - resulting in one of the most grace and consolation-filled years to follow.
This is one of my favorite weeks during the Liturgical Year: Feast of the Archangels two days ago (we had such a great day that I'll have to write about later), followed by today, the celebration of one of the most beloved Saints of all time, tomorrow we honor our Guardian Angels, and Saturday the fest day of St. Francis of Assisi.  Such a great week!

Just recently I read Dorothy Day's biography of St. Therese (Therese: A Life Of Therese Of Lisieux ).  It redoubled my love for her, and really for her whole family, inspiring me to once again celebrate this special day!  This evening we will celebrate with a simple dinner followed by French eclairs, we might watch one of the movies about St. Therese, and this afternoon during Joe's nap the girls and I are going to make sacrifice beads.
I also missed the boat on the novena leading up to today, but I'm going to do a St. Therese novena starting with today.  This one.  Here's to hoping the novena bracelet I picked up at Edel will help me stay on track!  We have an intention for this novena that is very near to our hearts, I have great hope that she will pray for us and that all will go well.  Please pray for us as well, my friends!

~~~~~~~~~~

St_therese
I had a picture very similar to the one above of St. Therese in my room growing up.  My Dad took me to the Catholic bookstore one day when I was in junior high and I picked it out, just thinking that she was so beautiful.  At the time, I didn't know who she was, didn't know her name, didn't know the profound effect she would have on my life.
A few years later, during the summer of 1997 the Lord captured my heart on a week long retreat put on by NET called D-Week.  The retreat was for me that profound moment when a child of God finally realizes that they are such and embraces it.  Obviously, at the tender age of 14 I had much more spiritual growth in front of me (as I still do!), but it was a starting point and I praise God that it happened at such a vulnerable time of my life.  I am convinced that that retreat and my experience of God's love there is what preserved me from all the temptations and evils that can be found in high school.
The interesting thing that I realized years later was that when I returned home from my retreat, my Dad commented to me that while I was gone my bedroom smelled like roses.
"I will spend my heaven doing good on earth. I will let fall a shower of roses." 
Can Saints choose us?  I wonder if she chose to pray for me despite my unawareness of her.
Several years later, after getting married and having a few children, I encountered a friend who had a great devotion to St. Therese.  Interestingly, I resisted finding out more about her because I thought that *everyone* had a devotion to St. Therese and surely she had no time to pray for me!
The one thing I may have been right about was that many people of my generation have a great devotion to her!  This morning when I got up, half of the Facebook statuses from my friends had to do with her, their love for her, their gratefulness for her prayers and for leading them closer to the Lord.
There is one ONLY THING to do here below: to love Jesus, to win souls
for Him so that He may be loved. Let us seize with jealous care every
least opportunity of self sacrifice. Let us refuse Him nothing - He
does so want our love! 
It wasn't until two years ago at this time that my love and devotion grew for St. Therese.  We had just moved to Colorado and I had just had Colette.  I was simultaneously readingStory of a Soul (finally!) and praying a Novena to St. Therese for an intention for a health issue I was having.  The day I started the Novena, I was outside of our church after Mass talking to others when a huge gust of wind blew up and this strew of flowers blew around my feet.  (There are many flowers on the property of our church, they're so beautiful!)  I also just happened to notice her stained glass window at the front of our church that day!
Anyway, reading Story of a Soul was a life changing event for me.  There are only a few books like this (another one for me is The Way by St. Josemaria Escriva) and it was like walking with a Saintly friend who knew my heart, knew what I needed to do to grow in love for Christ, and what I needed to do to be a better Christian, wife & mother, and daughter of God.  Her simplicity was inspiring, her love for others was ground-breaking, and her love for the Lord was overwhelming.
Concerning the intention of my novena, my prayers were answered but not in a way that I expected.  The suffering didn't just go away, but my dear Saintly friend encouraged me to embrace it, to unite it with the suffering of Christ on the Cross, and to offer prayers for the conversion of hearts.  Months later it went away.
To offer oneself as a victim to Divine Love is not to offer oneself to
sweetness - to consolation; but to every anguish, every bitterness, for
Love lives only by sacrifice; and the more a soul wills to be
surrendered to Love, the more must she be surrendered to suffering. 
St. Therese has made herself present in my life during other times, particularly during a time of sadness about a year ago.  I don't really want to share that story, but I do want to acknowledge her continuing presence in my life and that of my family.  Charlie has grown to love her as well and has a particular devotion to her father, Blessed Louis Martin (a father of 5 girls I might add).  Currently, my one consistent prayer that I ask her to intercede on is for the maintenance of my little daughters' innocence.  I hope they grow up to be as innocent and faithful as St. Therese!
O my God, Thou knowest I have never desired but to love Thee alone. I
seek no other glory. Thy Love has gone before me from my childhood, it
has grown with my growth, and now it is an abyss the depths of which I
cannot fathom. 
There are so many more little connections (such as the fact that she is the patroness of our missionary organization!) and experiences with St. Therese.  I hope that someday I will meet her in Heaven, due in part to her prayers for me and the inspiration she has given me to love Jesus more and more during my life on earth.
I desire no sensible consolation in loving; provided Jesus feel my love
that is enough for me. Oh! to love Him and to make Him loved...how
sweet it is... 

St. Therese, pray for us!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Andrea Approved {7 Quick Takes}



My Daybook went way too long the other day, and I really just want to put some of these things down today for Seven Quick Takes, so I'm gonna actually try to be, you know, quick.

-1-
I read this post today and found it endlessly fascinating: Making, and Eating, the 1950s' Most Nauseating Jell-o Soaked Recipes.
It's all about mid-century cooking: I like cooking, and I like history.  Very interesting, indeed.
this pic from the original post
It's not ALL about jell-o.  So, do not fear.

-2-
Maybe part of the reason I found that article compelling is that we have been on an "I Love Lucy" kick at our house, thanks to Amazon Prime streaming.

The girls think it is hilarious and BEG me to watch it; I don't usually mind because I can talk them into folding laundry while they laugh.  Win, win.
uh...ladies? not a lot of folding going on there...
We're not huge TV watchers, and it's not allowed during the school week, but this is pretty innocent fare.  That said, I'm usually drawn in to watch with them and, typically, I'm pretty horrified about the 1950's thoughts on marriage and women being projected through the show.  Surely this is going to spur an entire post, because it's been very thought provoking to me.

-3-
It's been raining for many, many days.  Bucking the flash flood warnings, we ventured out today after cabin fever set in.  We needed provisions.  And by provisions, I mean hazelnut coffee, hot tea, and bagels at Panera.  So, we brought along school work too (see my big girls in the background reading?  so mature.).

Many compliments were enjoyed from fellow patrons, and no water was spilled.  So, I'd say it was a win.
And we didn't need our floaties due to flooding.
And, at least it wasn't been snow.
I hate snow.

-4-
Are you interested in another link?  Well, here's a sweet one I stumbled upon the other day: Keep Dating Your Wife: 25 Ways to Show Your Wife You Love Her.
My beloved husband is stellar at this.  (3,4,&5 are my favorites on the list!)

I think my favorite part about reading this was trying to see if I could think of ideas to make sure he knows how much I respect and love him.  It's so important to stay on top of these things....our marriages are important not only to ourselves, but to our children, and to society at large.
 
-5-
My treasured Chacos are on their last leg.
house call from Dr. JoJo - why am I getting a shot in the leg?? nooo!
The soles are coming apart, the straps are fraying and I hate the thought of replacing them because 1) $$$, and 2) they're ugly!  Despite all that, they are my favorite, so I'm gonna need a new pair around Easter when my feet aren't swollen anymore (they're not yet, I'm just anticipating here).  I'll have to start saving now.  This pair lasted me 7 years though, and hiked mountains, hauled my pregnant self around 3 times, and trekked all over the country.  So, I guess they're a good investment.
I actually need some cute flats for Fall.  Help?

-6-
My daughters were amazed that I could change light bulbs in the laundry room and bathroom this afternoon.

This is proof of two things:
a) my husband is so super sweet and serves me with a joyful heart;
and
b) I need to make sure my girls are properly empowered and know that I'm quite capable in many areas that I don't usually manage - and they can be as well.

Maybe they'll get power tools for Christmas.

-7-
I started plopping things into my Amazon baby list last night because it's been a few years since Joe, we've moved a lot, and many things are worn out.  It helps me stay organized so I can be scouring second-hand and deals.  But - Wow!  There is some new and innovative baby gear since I started this adventure 11 years ago.
I still maintain that the only baby items that I really love and need are sweet FuzziBunz and an Ergo.  My last Ergo bit the dust, so I'm the in the market for a new one.

ANYWAY, I do need some advice.
I'm notorious with my husband for being a bit unprepared (is that an understatement, Charlie?), so I'm toying with the idea of getting a ::gasp:: diaper bag.
Can anyone help a friend out here?
Here's my criteria:
- Nothing "cute."  I don't like cute.  Cute is not Andrea Approved.  (Beautiful, classy, black - those are approved.)
- Nothing that can't endure a few kids.  I mean, let's be honest, I need my gear to last.
- Nothing that I couldn't pull off as a purse.
- Holds wet wipes, a couple Fuzzi's, and a wetbag.  MAYBE a nursing cover (meh), a Lara bar, and if the toddler's lucky, a sippy cup.  I don't know.

Please tell me there's something like this out there?

Have a great weekend everyone!  Visit Jen for more fabulous Quick Takes!
(That was quick right?  I think it was quick...)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Dinosaur Out the Window, Three Good Books, and Vegan Cookies {a Daybook}

Rainy days are for Daybooks....so are days when I don't really have time to sit down all at once and put out a blog post.  I have a week's worth of posts I'd like to write, but my vocation calls, and blogging in spurts is my reality today.

Outside my window...
It's a Texas fall.  It's rainy.  It's less-hot.  (Do not mistake that with "cool."  This is Houston, friends.)  The fact that we are no longer blasted with a sauna when we open the front door makes me feel like busting out all my lovely Autumn decor.  I think I'll do that this weekend.  I'd also like to do something pretty with my front porch.

Giving thanks...
Do you know what I am most thankful for this week?  I am thankful that we stepped away from most of our "extra" commitments for the year.  What this has done is opened up many hours, but in particular, one spectacular hour, on one Monday a month, that I can attend my Opus Dei cooperator's circle.  I've only been twice now, I used to often go when we lived in Colorado, and I forgot how much I love need it.  The fellowship of other women who are seeking holiness in the midst of our daily work, compounded with prayer and a sustaining talk is a catalyst for remaining in that place of prayer, always, every day.
morning meditations from In Conversation with God, my most treasured series of books

We are learning...
We are learning SO much.  This school year, four weeks in, is beating me up.  On the other hand, my girls are thriving and have been very happy with the content of their education this year.  My highlight so far has been the switch to Saxon Math for my girls older than 2nd grade.  I'm not interested in a K-2 math curriculum that has a million manipulatives and requires a ton of prep on my part, which, in my perception that's what Saxon is through 2nd or 3rd grade.  My 3rd grader is using Saxon 5/4, and my 5th grader is using Saxon as well.  It's like a breath of fresh air for me, a non-mathy mama.

From the kitchen...
Today after lunch, I made the children these "vegan, gluten free" peanut butter cookies.  Mine weren't gluten free because I used regular flour, and I couldn't really care less about being vegan, I just didn't want to use an egg. haha  Anyway, they turned out lovely, at least they were a smashing hit with my children and not so bad with my afternoon coffee right now.  ;-)
When I'm finished, I'll toss a lovely pork tenderloin in the crock pot before we get back to our lessons. 

At the gym....
Oh that mythical place that I love but can't seem to drag myself into????  The gym???  Sigh.  I went ONE time last week, and it was horrible!  I fully expected to get there and not be able to throw down a couple of miles at a slow jog because I spent my first trimester asleep.  I was wrong.
I got on the treadmill.  I dutifully walked a little bit.  Then I just....couldn't...handle it!  I NEEDED to run!  So I ran.  I could have easily run and run and run and just kept going, except that blasted need to "keep my heart rate down" and all that shenanigans.  UGH.  It was SO frustrating.
I'm irritated now thinking about it.

I watched some previews of "prenatal fitness" videos on Amazon the other day and wanted to tear my hair out.  So much cheese.  So much "cute" (I don't like being thought of as "cute" that just annoys me).  I just want to ride a bike and go to BodyPump.
I'm getting a little weepy.  This was so much more fun to prepare for than child birth.  But I admit, not as life-changing or beautiful or wonderful as a new little child. :-)

Out of the mouths of babes...
A few weeks ago when we told the children that we are expecting a new baby, someone very small (who is working on her spelling) made a list of potential baby names: 
For girls: Colette (ha), Ann, Sarah, Mary, Margaret
For a boy: Jesus

hehe  Sweet angels.

I am working on...
Trying not to be a blogging slacker.  There has been a sudden onslaught of encouragement for me towards this little blog here, and so, I'm going to try to work on it.  But, vocation takes priority.  Always.  

I am reading...
I'm reading three books right now.  First, The Nesting Place: It Doesn't Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful on Kindle.  It was $1.99 a few weeks ago, and despite my resistance to read a "home decorating" book, I was convinced by my sweet, sweet friend Wendy.  I am enjoying it, I'm almost finished with it, and I'm not totally sold on the premise - especially as a renter.  I find the desire to sink any amount of money or time into a rental home to make zero sense whatsoever, but I'm not done with the book yet, so we'll see.  
Secondly, I have been working on The Fellowship of the Ring since July (I can remember dragging it to Edel with me, which, I will not be attending in 2015 boo!  But it sure looks like fun!), and I really must finish it.  
Last, and easily my favorite right now, is Paul of Tarsus.  I love St. Paul, I love his writings, and this book has been so interesting both as a biography, and also as a history lesson for me.


I am praying...
Remaining close in my prayers are friends due with babies soon, friends with many health issues, intentions for extended family, and that St. Joseph will pray for us as begin to crack the door open to finding out where we will live in the near future (it's time to buy something, and maybe that's why I don't want to mess with my rental? haha  It's all in God's time though...so I don't know when/how it will happen.  He is making it very clear to both of us, in prayer, that *this* is our community, where He wants us to stay.  We've explored moving downtown, and to somewhere more rural, even to a different section of the out-lying parts of Houston, but this is it...these are our people.  This is where we belong.).


The Liturgical Year...
Last year I did a good job planning for the Liturgical Year for the family.  This year, it's part of the 5% of the work I haven't finished.  On the upside, we have never been members of a parish that lives up the special holy days and feast days like our beloved church now.  I almost feel some of the burden lifted because no amount of picture books or crafts or meals will ever outshine genuflecting in the presence of a pice of the True Cross on the Exultation of the Holy Cross at Mass last Sunday.  And that's just one example.


I am struggling...
I'm battling exhaustion by the middle of the day.  It's hard for me to keep my mind straight, I have to work to keep a smile on my face, and it takes some serious prayer to be willing to give of myself after about 3pm.  


I am hearing...
I hear the sounds of my appliances doing work for me.  Can I just say I am so grateful to live in a time of electricity?  I just really like air conditioning.
The dishwasher is running it's first round of the day, the washing machine is scrubbing clothes clean, the crock pot is humming - filled to the brim with a delicious dinner, and my sweet girls are cleaning their room.


Clicking around...
This podcast, a six part series on Hamlet, has been a wonderful use of my time: Circe Presents: Hamlet, A Six Part Discussion Series on Shakespeare's Masterpiece


Added to "My Wishlist" board on Pinterest: Geode Slice Bracelet from Wrenn Jewelry (I looooove all of her stuff!)

(Two for one here!)  I love this series running on The Rhodes Log on "Before I Had a Seven-Year-Old."  When I was in the trenches with a bunch of tiny children, I really needed this.  Have y'all seen "Mom's Night Out?"  The scene where the pastor's wife tells disheveled mama of three young children, "It'll get better!  Give it five years....(or seven)..." cracked me up because: Truth.  It is hard to be the mother of a lot of tinies.  
Some personalities handle it better than others (if you want to see the epitome of how a graceful mother handles 4 under 5, read this loveliness from one of my dearest friends in the world, Lauren.  Everything you read here is truly how she lives it.  She is the ultimate present mom.), I didn't handle it all that well.  It was hard for me.
Having a 7-year-old and two more older still has been a total game changer in my quality of life.  Check out this series!


Around the house...
I'm not a huge pet person, but I miss my dog.  I'm not even joking.  I had NO idea how much he pulled his weight just by eating crumbs off the floor.  Sweeping and mopping and vacuuming are going to take over my life.
All to the glory of God.  :-)

One of my favorite things...
Gabrielle's art.  And her sense of humor.

This is her math binder.  It's a picture of her in our school room thinking about how much she loves math, with a dinosaur peeking in the window.  love love love love love

A few plans for the next week...
Over the next week we have CCD at church (and Mass, of course!), lots of home projects over the weekend, a potential dinner with Nana, and next week a regular week of school and ballet, plus a play date, our homeschool nature club, and Gabrielle will be preparing an "authentic" Thanksgiving dinner next week for social studies.  That's a lot of excitement.

This week on Instagram...
This picture from Saturday got the most likes all week, obviously NOT from the stellar photography, but probably the sentiment.  Our family spent the bulk of the late afternoon cooking up a storm and dancing through the kitchen to make a feast of appetizers to enjoy during Saturday night's Texas Longhorns football game.  It was so much fun.


My sweeties in the courtyard at church got almost as many likes, on their first day of CCD.

Happy Wednesday, my friends!