Tuesday, December 31, 2013

What to Read in 2014

I have been revving myself up for another year's worth of reading. It has made me see that I am a year behind on all the hot, new released titles. I am going to read them anyway. Maybe some of the other blogger's linking up to this rad link up hosted by Liesl at The Spiritual Workout will have next year's hottest books ready to go for you!

Here is my fancy shot of all the books I need to read:

and the pre-order that is not available yet:

Like I need a book on NFP! I sort of can't resist though. Total girl blogging crush on a funny lady. 

I know. I am breaking the rules. That is EIGHT BOOKS. Not the five Liesl specified. Well, if it makes you feel any better, The Van Gogh book is so large, I doubt I will get through it, the Bible will also not be finished, and that brings me down to only six, so let me give you the scoop on the six (or the five left in the photo) I have a shot at finishing in 2014:

Pope Awesome
I have to read everything Cari at Clan Donaldson writes. She is down with Cardinal Dolan AND Jim Gaffigan. Also, she does this brilliant thing with comboxes... for some reason, I am having trouble linking to her page today, but yep. Girl crush.

Daring Greatly
This comes highly recommended from some Cathsorority ladies, so I am diving in. I have no idea what it is about or what I am in for, but it sounds like something that should be fantastic.

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church
This was an Amazon rec. I expect to learn and be brilliant when I am done. 

Life In Spite of Me
I will save this for when I run out of steam in the pro life fight. It is about a young girl who survived abortion.

Lean In
All the cool chicks read it last year, but I really want to focus more on developing my own theories and ideas for women in the workplace and how that meshes with Catholicism and where the heck the holes are in the movement and how to fill them and, and, and....

Hopefully I don't just drop everything to read the fun books first! Simcha and Cari, I'm lookin' at you.

What are you reading? TELL ME.

P.S. I was super excited to do a book link up and ignored that it is a link up for recs not to-reads. So.... here are my recs!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Twitterature (12.16.2013)

Today I am linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy for Twitterature! I am trying to get myself revved up to finish reading one last book for the year, and to get the momentum going I need to finish reading my 2014 list in 2014. So here we go: some fast reviews of the books I actually read!

Mad in America: A well-researched, detailed, and fascinating look at the evolution of the treatment of mental illness in America. Truly eye opening.

The Internet is a Playground: David Thorne does all the things we want to do when we are asked silly or useless questions. Great pallet cleanser!

The Big Book of Women Saints: A look at the lives of women saints, including quotes from many. It gave me a connection and helped me relate to these holy women.

The Sum of My Parts: This book takes you through the devastating abuse Trujillo lived through, and gives a glimpse at what life is like living with mental illness. Lots of tears, but hope as well.

Dad is Fat: Read it in two days! Gaffigan gives a humorous take on life with a big family. Buy his book! I hear he needs a bigger apartment!

Beyond the Sling: A quick read on attachment parenting. My first ever parenting book, and probably my last, but it was informative.

The Long Loneliness: I still have about 25 pages to read, but this is a look at life as an atheist turned Catholic convert who helped begin the Catholic Workers Movement. I appreciate her directness as well as how contrary it is to my own thought. Definitely has given me some things to think about and work through.

There you have it! Please visit the above link for more Twitterature! I'd also like to know: what have you read this year that makes you want to buy a copy for someone else?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

What I Wore Sunday (12.15.2013)


Christmas is almost here! I wanted to do a quick post today, because this is just my favorite Sunday of Advent, and I was able to be slightly liturgically correct and it made me that much more ready for Mass! It is quite possibly the single most awkward photo I have ever taken, but who cares? ADVENT!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Overcoming Internet Sloth.

No, I don't mean that kind of sloth. I mean this kind of sloth.

Don't get me wrong. I have a super, fantastic neighbor that pushes me to get out of the house at least once a month, and children that require the occasional walk (my oldest son also likes to pee outside. Don't judge.) I also run a billion, million, trillion errands and I am active. 

The sort of soth I am afraid of, is research sloth. If I took the time to write "Get a Library Card" on my mile-long To-Do List, and I was patient enough to wait on inter-library loans, I might not have a stack of unread books that I am seriously DYING to read as I work my way through The Long Loneliness (in 45 minute, monthly increments.) Amazon is my friend and foe. I hear about a book online, I see how cheap it is and click buy, because leaving the house is hard. I have not purchased an e-reader, and I love owning books so I can read them and look at them and maybe one day make one of these:

or this:

Maybe I am dealing with a mix of sloth and gluttony. I want the books to loan and high light and study, but how often do I do this these days? I do not fancy myself a collector, but I do love my books and my future, imaginary library. 

The stack of books I was determined to read at the beginning of 2013:

I still have a few pages to go in Mad in America, but I think I get where he is going with it so I doubt I pick it back up (I need the time for other books)  and I did finish Beyond the Sling, but I never cracked the others. Fail. I did read My Dad is Fat though. And buy/ be gifted seven others. At least. 

So, I conclude that I really need to read the books I have. I need a book group, or an extra two hours a day to read. It is normal to function on three hours of sleep, right? Right, then. When I am done checking out the new releases and recommendations online, I will fill you in on my new and improved reading list. Don't hold your breath.

Monday, December 2, 2013

A Few Advent Favorites

This year, I am completely, over the moon excited about Advent and Christmas. I am not sure why: it promises to be busy and hectic, but I am bubbling over with happiness that December is finally here! So, here is a list for you, for no particular reason:


I have to start with O Come, O Come Emmanuel. Have. To. Start. And I just found a Bad Religion cover. What?!
Advent wreaths. 
I made this last year: http://catholicicing.com/advent-wreath-craft-for-catholic-kids/#comment-9986

Here is my wreath. I bought it before kids, and it gives me a heart attack pulling it out each year. Hence the above craft project with the kids!

This is a new favorite: the Saint Andrew Christmas Novena. The prayer is beautiful. It is my first year saying it, but I am so glad that I was introduced to the prayer! Thanks, Cathsorority ladies!

Honestly? Experiencing everything as my children do it for the first few times of their lives. Telling them the story of Christ and how we are waiting for his birth. Figuring out how our family will handle the St. Nick/Santa/Christ issue. Laughing and starting our own traditions. It is just a beautiful time of year!

This looks to be a new Advent tradition: cooking a turkey dinner! So I just have to say that I am looking forward to eating this:

How are you preparing this Advent?

Drop by HERE for more Advent!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

How About We Stop Saying Things Like This to Our Kids?

This. Justin Lookadoo... you are misinformed. Kindly stop speaking to teens until you get it.

1. No one has to make themselves "dateable." If someone insists that you have to contort yourself into a version of you that they deem appropriate, that person does not love you for who you are.

2. Telling teens that boys only want to get in a girl's pants tells our boys that they are incapable of controlling sexual urges. It sells our men short.

3. Telling teens that girls need to "know how to shut up" tells our teens that girls do not have a voice that deserves to be heard. It helps create a society that blames women when they are raped.

4. Why do we insist on asking women why they are being abused instead of asking men why they are abusive?

5. For the love of God, and all that is honest and good and true in this world,  do not build a speaking career on a message that perpetuates the cycle of abuse. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I Only Blog When I Have A Problem

Here I am again, complaining. There is an article circulating in pro life circles about a teacher that is being pushed out for objecting to Planned Parenthood coming into his classroom. This is the link to the story I have seen shared five billion times. Here is another link on the same matter. Do you see the difference? I am not so sure there is such a thing as unbiased journalism in this country anymore. Pro life news sites add a vomit inducing spin 90% of the time that makes the article just unreadable. Mainstream media adds the same spin into the other direction. Am I alone in wanting a journalist to just report the facts?

Here are my thoughts. For starters, I really wish that pro lifers would get their ish together. Do you believe abortion is murder? Then STAY ON TOPIC. Circulating an article that throws in a jab such as
"the local PP that affirms homosexuality, promotes “sex-positive celebrations,” and offers abortions." confuses the message. There is enough of a case for promoting the idea that pro life individuals have just as much of a right to be professionals in their chosen field as those that are not pro life. That is enough.

The work I did as an advocate was rewarding, but there is not a day I went to work and did not worry about how my pro life views would be seen. At the local level, my supervisors knew my views and knew that my primary goal was to be an advocate for survivors. At the state level, (perhaps even at a bigger DV/SA organization) those views fall under more scrutiny. Am I somehow less of an advocate for women because I believe we should not choose between our women and children? Is Bill Diss less of a math instructor because he does not hide his pro life views? Is a doctor not competent for taking their oath to first do no harm seriously?

Moving on. What the crap is a "sex-positive celebration?" Quit making up terminology! If you are against the idea that our kids become teens and suddenly are hormone crazed beings, say that. If you are against our culture that seeks to separate sex from making babies, say that. Most importantly, if you take issue with Planned Parenthood being in our schools, don't write an article that throws homosexuality into the mix for kicks.

If you want change, it begins at home. Do I think that sex education really should be taking place in schools? No. I plan to embrace my role as my children's primary educator and have those uncomfortable conversations. Do I support abstinence only education? When it looks like this, yes. When it tells our girls that they are comparable to garbage if they make a mistake, no. When it teaches our sons that they go to hell for making a mistake, no. When it tells our children that girls must be modest to protect boys and implies that boys will grow into men that can't control themselves, no. Until parents are having candid and age-appropriate conversations with their children about sex, life goals, fertility, hormones, rape, and abuse, we have sex education in schools, and the majority believe PP is the best equipped to handle it. Our children deserve better, and we need to fight for it.

As our wise Pope Francis has said, (in more eloquent terms than this!) we have to lay off all the things we are against, and show those that disagree with us the love within our faith. We oppose abortion and the goals of Planned Parenthood because we seek to support women and children. We seek to eliminate the reasons women feel trapped into aborting their children. Our reporting and journalism should reflect this.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

What I Wore Sunday (11.10.2013)

It has been a long time.
Click here for more Mass fashion

I decided to link up today. It has been a long time since I took photos for WIWS, so here it goes! (My daughter was saying "Boo!" in the first photo. My cameraman thinks he is funny. Then he made me move to another location for the shoot.

The Breakdown:

yellow top: NY&Co
white cardi: Target
black pants: NY&Co
pewter shoes (Yeah!): Target

It took me a long time to get the shoes in my size, and multiple Targets. It is a great, versatile color!

On a related note: looking for Christmas outfits for the kiddos. Is there anywhere in the US that sells a green cardigan for a toddler?! 

We are loving the new parish. The kids are pretty well behaved in Mass, and we are enjoying the priests. It is nice to feel settled in when it comes to Mass!

Enjoy your Sunday

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

What Might Have Been

When my husband asked me to marry him, it was obviously because I was pregnant. There was no other reason for a couple to get engaged after only six months of dating on a quiet, college campus, right? I dealt with the looks and the questions for months. When nine months had passed and there was no baby, we were a month into our life as a married couple. The question of "when are you due?" turned into "When are you having kids?" After four years of putting on a brave "don't fuck with me" smile and answering, "I am a barren wasteland." every time the question came up, I stopped hiding behind the five year plan, and resorted to trying Clomid. I was nervous and scared. I did not want to be faced with the reality that I may indeed be a barren wasteland. 

To my surprise, we achieved pregnancy on the first cycle. My OB was a kind and wise man: he ordered blood work as soon as I could get in. I spent my adoration hours in joyous tears. I saw the heart beat. Around seven weeks, my hormone levels were not increasing at the appropriate speed. I started progesterone shots. At eight weeks, while at a Christmas party, I miscarried. My OB had me go in the following Monday for an ultrasound, and the much wanted and loved speck that had been there a few weeks ago was gone, and all I saw was a big fat zero. I sat in the dark room and cried. Okay, I ugly cried and sobbed for a good fifteen minutes, called my husband, then my supervisor to tell her I wasn't coming to work, and then I ugly cried again. After a while, I gathered my things and put on my "No, I have not been bawling my eyes out, so stop looking at me." face and drove the hour from my doctor's office to my bed. 

Christmas was awful. I was sad, and drunk at times. To be honest, I even peed myself in our truck on one drunk night. I was really sad, and that might be the biggest understatement in the world. I cried every time I was alone. I cried when my OB handed me a bible passage as he shared in our loss and apologized for not being able to help. 

It is hard to know how to feel now. The mourning was constant for awhile, and then we were unexpectedly pregnant the next cycle with our oldest (living) son sans Clomid. I spent the first trimester (and every following first trimester) in a roller coaster of panic, terror, anxiety and joy. Early pregnancy announcements send me into a panic spiral. "What if something happens? Why are they telling everyone now? Don't they know how much it hurts to have to tell everyone when the baby is gone?!"

I think about that baby often. I think about how deeply sad it makes me to have never met my first child, but then it is painful to try to balance that with my love for my oldest child on earth, for I could not have had them both. It is a confusing sort of pain. 

So today, on this day of remembrance, I will think about that first heart beat that I watched on the monitor, and be grateful for the hope and joy that came with it. I will hold my children close: even those I did not get a chance to meet.

Monday, October 7, 2013

A Thought Concerning Parenting

Some of my thoughts about parenting have creeped into this blog from time to time. It is hard to leave it out when I try to write about things our culture is doing wrong and how we go about changing it. I fortunately have a well-equipped spouse that shares many of these thoughts, and (so far) we are raising three children with success. That isn't to say that there aren't other successful ways (not a fan of the mommy wars) but it helps that I have someone else in my corner that not only loves my kids, has mostly the same parenting style, but he knows what Harrison Bergeron* means. Be still, my beating heart.

In the last 24 hours, I came across two very different Facebook shares. Here is the first:

Please due not sue. This was circulating on Facebook. I have no idea where it came from, though I certainly have some guesses.
I get that our generation has some new ideas about parenting. I get that some of these ideas are constructive, positive, and there might even be studies to back these ideas up. My own experiences as a child that had some different needs in the classroom make me bristle when I see something telling me there are words I should not be using with my children. I take no issue with the left or right side of this table. I do understand the thought process behind the middle column, but 'quick' is a 'judging word'?  Clever? Right? Great? I think we need to back up the train a minute. What happened to all of us being differently abled? What happened to humans being unique? What happened to different people being able to excel at different things? Many of the words in the middle column do not judge, but are mere descriptors. If you are quick, that can be helpful in some cases, but in others, being slow would be more helpful.  Why is it wrong to tell your child they performed a task quickly? 

Intelligent is another fine example. There are many kinds of intelligence. There are many ways for a child to be intelligent. I am not supposed to describe my child as intelligent for fear of what? I ask this question honestly. 

Then, tonight I saw this.  

St. Thérèse so eloquently puts into words what I want to say. We need all kinds of intelligence, beauty, quickness, slowness, cleverness, and amazing in this world. I don't want to avoid words with my children. I want them to have a deeper understanding of what they mean.

*"Harrison Bergeron" are the first two words that came to mind when I looked at the center column in the first photo. Maybe that is extreme, but I truly fear our culture will continue down the road of equating equality with sameness. I don't want that for my children, and I think a well-intentioned idea got away from the 'parenting experts' here.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

"Where do you think you learn what makes a woman sexy?"

I saw this quote come across my Facebook feed, and I was interested. Coincidentally, it gave me the lead in to the post that I have been trying to write for a week or so now. Score for me.

The quote comes from an interview Joseph Gordon-Levitt gave on The Colbert Report, and they are discussing JGL's latest movie, Don Jon. You can view the clip here.

Don Jon is a movie about a man that can't relate to people on account of all the porn he is watching and the girl that he is chasing who incidentally can't relate to anyone because of romcoms. I don't really feel like getting into the thought that romcoms are as destructive as the pornography industry. Okay, maybe I do feel like it, but life, you know?

Last week, I posted a link to a fantastic article from Verily on the ol' Cathofeminism FB page (What? You STILL have not liked the page? Stop. Do it.) You can read it here. One of the aspects of this particular piece I liked, was that it does address that the movie sheds light on porn being problematic... by showing porn. Hmm.

Now. Back to JGL. I think he is implying here that men figure out what is sexy through porn. Now, if I am wrong, help me out. Is this true?

Where DO we learn what makes a woman sexy? It is an intriguing question in the year 2013, for sure. Children's toys imitate sexy. TV tells us what is sexy. Commercials tell us what is sexy. Is there anything out there that does not tell us what is sexy?

Thanks, NWF for the link!

If you did not watch the clip, Colbert responds with, "The Bible." I really enjoy the way he is able to diffuse and redirect questions, and this made me laugh, but I find that the original question is still haunting my thoughts.

Where DO we learn what makes a woman sexy? Rather, where SHOULD we learn what makes a woman sexy? There was a powerful piece posted over at NWF that is relevant to this discussion. Our kids learn from us, their parents. Their primary educators. They see everything we do and don't do. While I cannot answer this question entirely, this is what I hope for when it comes to my children:

I want them to know that their parents are in love. I want them to see how amazing and beautiful it is to meet, fall in love with someone that gets your obscure music references and sense of humor. I want them to see that love, marriage is a vocation. It is not always easy, but it is more than sex. It is more than an orgasm. It is more than attraction or lust or the heat of the moment. I don't want my sons to have to learn about attraction and love under the limits of "sexy" or pornography. I don't want my daughter to contort or contain all the amazing things about her into the limits of "sexy" or pornography. 

Where are our children learning about these things?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Catholicism, Vocation, Women and the Three T's.

While I do have a theology degree, I do not consider myself to be an expert in Catholicism. I love my faith. I live my faith. I study my faith and acknowledge that there are things I do not fully understand, but, fortunately, I have my entire life to grow in my understanding. This post will center on the dignity of women and the call to time, talent and treasure and how I see it relating to my vocation as a wife and mother. It might not be in that order, or coherent for that matter, but the two subjects are closely related for me, and I can’t seem to write on one without the other clouding my thoughts.

While the thought of women on the altar for any reason is controversial in some Catho-circles, I have pretty much grown up in the church seeing the many different ways women contribute to the body of the Church. I chose not to be an altar server, but I really did enjoy the fact that I was able to go to daily Mass when I was in Catholic school because I was able to cantor and lector. After a few years, I realized that I could not read sheet music and the older I became, the more important it was that I be able to do so if I wanted to cantor! I stepped down from that role, but participated in the Youth Masses in high school in various roles: greeter, lector, usher. In college, I thought more seriously about the call for time, talent, and treasure. As I had relatively no treasure, I became involved in the Catholic student center and signed up for various ministries, including catechist. I am happy to say that I spent a great deal of time in my twenties serving the Church in as many capacities as I possibly could.

Now that I am a mother, I feel my free time disappearing. The time, talent, and treasure I have to give is increasingly limited. It truly breaks my heart! I see calls for catechists, lectors, and volunteers. It is really difficult to answer these calls when you live hours away from family in a new state, with three children that are not yet school age. I am assured that the time and effort I spend teaching my children what it means to be Catholic is a more than adequate substitute at this time, but the yearning to be further involved has not been shaken. Will I ever find a balance that quiets that yearning? I am not sure. I still feel new to this! How does one’s vocation influence the time, talent, and treasure that is available? I would love to see this further explored in homilies. If anyone out there in the blogosphere has resources to share, please do!

In this same vein, my Church seeks to uphold the dignity of every human person, and part of this is that everyone, EVERYONE, has a way to contribute that is important. Most significantly, (for the purposes of this blog) the dignity of women. There is no place that I experience this more fully than in the Church’s teachings on sexuality. Come on now. The Catholic Church has documents focusing on the damage pornography doesto relationships (with an emphasis on the relevance to the dignity of women), the importance of true feminism, and the story of Christ himself draws attention to the importance of women. (Link and Link.) I have always felt embraced by the Church. I see the many ways that my contribution as a woman is of the utmost importance. I realize that extremists can twist and manipulate things to show how anti-women the Church is and how the submission of women in a patriarchal structure is God’s way. I do not see an accurate view of the Catholic Church in either of these visions.

 I have had encounters with difficult priests and laity. I have never seen those encounters as an accurate representation of the Catholic Church.  There were abuse scandals in the parish I grew up in. There were priests and sisters that were not positive role models for me just as there were laity that were not positive role models. There were times I encountered the miserable politics of parishes. There are times I felt discouraged, but there was clarity in these experiences that told me it was human imperfection, not faulty Catholicism that caused the problems. There is truly nothing more upsetting to me than to see individuals portraying the Church that I know and love as some sort of hate mongering, judgmental, pedophile ring. It is infuriating for many reasons, but mostly because the faults of us that make up the Catholic Church reflect so poorly on an institution that is so pure and good.

To try to wrap things up, here is the post in sum:

 I love Catholicism.
 I love the many ways that women especially can be called to contribute and be a part of the Church.
  I struggle with appropriate ways to be involved with the Church.
 I am deeply saddened by the way our fallen nature reflects on my faith.
I love Catholicism. Bunches.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

I Could Not Find an Appropriate Visual Aid for This Post.

I know. The very title of this piece is enough to make you want to vomit and skip over it, regardless of what sort of women’s rights activist you might be. I posted it for comments from the Cathofeminism Facebook community because I feel it is important to acknowledge that this line of thinking is real. It is not satire. It is not a myth perpetuated by crazy prolife groups. There are really men that use women.  Destiny from NWF hits the nail square on the head:

“…(G)oing from an ‘incubator’ to a ‘semen receptacle’ is no progress at all.”

Let’s take a moment to look beyond the crazy here. Look at what it must be like to be a woman on the receiving end of this treatment. Can you blame her? This type of “bro-choice” male uses women for his own sexual gratification and the surge of power. He is selfish. He uses abortion as a tool to get what he wants. That kind of manipulation does damage to women: especially the woman in the relationship.

Abortion is morally reprehensible. It is taking the life of a human being. Allowing men to manipulate, dominate, and control women is also morally reprehensible. It is not a “private” matter. That kind of abuse affects us all. That kind of abuse and use of women as sexual objects is what allows things like this weekend’s VMA debacle to continue to occur. 

Why are we surprised? Look at the aftermath. Look at who is taking the heat. The twenty year old girl. Yes, she is an adult and will take responsibility for her part, but what about the man in the performance? What about those that produced it? There were many people involved in the decision to put that on stage, yet Miley is the one being torn to shreds. (Here is a blogger that first posted about Miley, but followed up with a decent post to remind others that she was not the only one on that stage.)

If we find men that manipulate women into abortion and abortion itself to be morally reprehensible, then we must stop placing the blame squarely on the shoulders of the female involved. We must find ways to remind her that the man using her is not her support. We must find ways to help her say “yes” to her child’s life, no matter the circumstance of the birth. If we are going to tell her that her child deserves life even if she was coerced or raped or showed bad decision making, then we must be there to show her she is not an object to be used. We must be a society that does not treat women as sexual objects, and we cannot simply write it of as “she wants to be used as a sexual object.” When you offer no reasonable alternative, it is not a choice

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

My Biggest Fear

When I take a moment to reflect on how exactly I came to know and love Catholicism, it always brings me to tears. I am not a particularly emotional person. I usually only cry when I am infuriated. My parents did their best to raise me Catholic, and though the majority of my family doesn't really practice their faith anymore, some how it stuck. Somehow I ended up in college with a group of rather incredibly faithful Catholics. Somehow, I was hired on to teach for the Totus Tuus program. I transferred to a Catholic college and I keep learning the intricacies of my faith.

This faith that I love so much is largely misunderstood in so many ways, and it deeply saddens me. There is a beauty and mystery to the church that so few know. 

My vocation calls me to pass on this understanding to my children and that is no small task. Sometimes I am truly terrified that I do not have what it takes. 

I pray that I do.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Five Favorites (08.21.2013) Baby Items

I have never linked up with Moxie Wife before for Wednesday Five Favorites, and I decided this week would be a good week to do it as Thomas over at Fuller Life put out a call for baby gear tips. I try to keep baby gear simple, so a limit of five items to gush about seems appropriate! (I am leaving out a few of the obvious things like diapers and carseats.) So this is a double link up for

as well as

When you are finished here, click the links above for more favorites and baby gear!

Neutral Clothing

This is something I am so glad I started with my first! We do not find out if we are having a boy or a girl, so most of the clothing that I have from 0-18 months is neutral. As I have noted in the past (see here and here) I am a very picky shopper when it comes to clothing, and when babies are, well, babies, I just try to have clean clothes! I stick to colorful sleepers, onesies and jumpers. (I call onesies that are shorts 'jumpers' I don't know if that is what they are called or not!) Button or zipper, though I prefer buttons because I don't have to completely undress for a diaper change. 
Jumper example. Ignore the insanity.

A Place to Sit Baby Down (or Two)

I love my babies, and I love to snuggle, but you will be happy to have a place to sit Baby down while you take a bathroom break. The two things I use and love can easily be narrowed down to one, but we have a baby frog (can be replaced with a blanket, for easy spit up removal that does not include upholstery cleaning) for the couch and a bouncer. 

Couch Frog

Handy photo opp bouncer

Some Sort of Carrier

This is a new one for me. I love my strollers, and I love how they made me feel like I was a badass, and able to leave the house with my one baby and then with a toddler and a baby. Then came number three. It started with a free coupon for a sling and I was hooked. I have three carriers: a Seven Sling (13 bucks shipping), a Baby K'Tan($50), and an Ergo (I think they tend to run $120, but I bought mine on sale on Zulily for $70). The sling was nice for the first few weeks, but I felt like baby was squished. I like the easy of the K'Tan (less wrapping than a Moby) but the Ergo is really my favorite. I have heard there are ways to try out different carriers before you buy them. Anyway, here are examples of the three:
Random lady wearing a K'Tan
Seven Sling
An "On the Go" Plan

If you are not much for traveling, then this might not apply to you, but a well-stocked diaper bag is key for us. We cloth diaper at home, but as they say, ain't nobody got time for that on the road! I keep ten diapers, a large pack of wipes, a nursing cover, a changing pad, a change or two of clothes per kid, sometimes an extra shirt for me, a gallon (or travel size, whatev) of hand sanitizer and a clean space in the Pilot for a quick change. On the road, gas stations and restaurants cannot be trusted to have clean restrooms, let alone a changing station. Unlike the floor of a public rest stop, I know where the inside of my vehicle has been so we do a quick change in the vehicle on the road. 
We take travel seriously, yo.

Reading Material

I am one of those book nuts, so this is what I usually give at baby showers and early birthdays especially. Kids love to be read to and it is just my favorite! Here are two of my favorite book series, because they are entertaining, visually fun, and my children do not get bored with them easily:

Baby Lit: These are primers based on the classics. I am obsessed. 

Every kid in my house loves these books, even me.

That's Not My...: We have the book That's Not My Monster, and my kids love it so much it is one of my favorite gifts for babies! Each page has a different texture to it (fluffy, spiky, furry, etc.) and my kids have all eaten monster ear because of this book. If monsters aren't your thing, there are puppies, monkeys, fairies, pirates and at least twenty others from which to choose.

No monsters were harmed during the making of this book.

WIWS (08.18.2013)

Click Me for more Mass fashion!

Boy howdy, what a crazy morning! For three weeks now I have been meaning to snap a photo for What I Wore Sunday, because I have been baby wearing again and I wanted to talk about the carrier a little bit. The first week Frankie boy pooped on me, then last week I left the Ergo in the car due to teething induced sleep deprivation. Third week is a charm!

White nursing tank: Undercover Mama
White/Tan striped shirt: NY&Co
Black/Gray Ergo
Black maxi skirt: Old Navy

Husband was too busy dancing in the parking lot to take a full shot of the outfit. Literally. The above shot was the only one that did not look like this:

I have been making time to read the readings before Mass again, and I also had seen some chatter about homilies from the Cathosorority ladies, so I was trying to be prepared. Unfortunately, here is the run down of Mass highlights:

- Noticing that my son not only has his shoes on the wrong feet, but both socks on wrong (in two different ways, of course) AND his pants were on backwards.

-Husband was attacked by a bee in the parking lot. It may or may not have flown out of our daughter's stuffed cow's tail. 

- I was flummoxed over the guitar player that was preaching after Communion. I was completely distracted by the Gandalf--looking gentlemen and why he was adding his own homily to the Mass. Then Father asked us all to be seated and John Michael Talbot was introduced and I felt really dumb. 

I don't know where my head was today. I had intended to write a post that thanked the Ergo for keeping Frankie comfy during Mass so I have the ability to focus a bit more and help the older two kids to pay attention. Then today happened. 

Oh well. We will keep trying!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Queens

To me it is very fitting that My Favorite Aunt was born on the Feast of the Assumption of Mary.  I celebrate Mary Queen of Heaven and Earth and my aunt the Queen all in one 24 hour period.

I come from a line of strong women. That might be a cliché line by now, but it is true. I might not agree with all the ways the women in my family have utilized their strength, but to endure what they have endured takes strength all the same. I can’t help but note the comparisons between the strength it took for Mary to say “yes” to God and give birth to Christ and have to watch her Son die on that cross and the strength of my relatives.

My aunt is a beautiful person, through and through. She is honest, kind and I share her sense of humor. I am so happy my mom has a sister like her!

This post will not be long; a teething baby is calling for his mama, but I wanted to take a minute to tell the Queens that August 15 is always one of my favorite feast days. Much love to my aunt. I hope she has a wonderful day today!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Trains, Dragons and Teeth

When you are a mother, the list of priorities in your life is never what you expected. There are grandiose ideas when you find out you are carrying a child. There are plans to work full time or part time and still be a full time parent. There are plans for possibly staying at home with the piece of your heart that begins to walk and talk and have priorities of his or her own. There are plans to stay in tune with your spouse so that your relationship is nurtured as well. There are plans for being the primary educator and role model. Plans to home school or private school or public school or un-school for some. Plans to help your child work towards their own goals, be it college or something else. Plans to raise a good person and citizen. Then life happens.

You move across country and don’t begin cloth diapering until your son is already three months old, and it is HARD to start again. Your daughter is asking to go potty but the middle of a move seems like the worst time to help her learn. You decide to skip pre-3 for your oldest son because he is a wunderkind, vowing to take him to museums instead and then getting out of the house during the day seems Herculean. The move puts so many new things on your list that self-care and prayer fall to the wayside. Your day consists of feeding kids, cleaning up kids after eating, napping kids, changing kids, bathing kids, getting more food to feed kids that eat more than you thought, and repeating the cycle all over. If you are lucky, you can get one thing done that day that does not involve the children, because their priorities become your priorities. Your need to pay bills or shop for better insurance rates is just as important as the items on your children’s To-Do List, only you do not get to see those in advance. Your oldest planned to plan with his train set and needs help setting it up. Your daughter wants to be a dragon in pretty shoes and needs your assistance, but your youngest is teething and just needs his mom to be close by. There are no more hands to give or tasks that can be accomplished by a tracks fixing, dragon creating mom.

How does a mother even begin to explain how these things become more important than saving money on car insurance or taking the time to update a budget on any given day?

They just are.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Day Six: Seven Posts in Seven Days

I love art. Once upon a time I had planned to be an art therapist. It was a solid excuse to take oodles of art classes but avoid majoring in art history. It is hard to draw or paint with children around the house, but maybe someday I will find the time to pick it back up again. I certainly was not a master, but I love painting and sketching. Not oil paints. I find that I'd rather it dry quicker than that, but acrylic and pencil are my mediums.

I think I love art museums more than I love to draw or paint. There are some intense emotions to be found on those hallowed grounds. Today I was missing being able to sit and sketch (unfortunately, the link above seems embarrassing to me now. I needed to keep practicing to improve. My painting has evolved a bit since that album, but not the pencil. Yikes. I am a phenom when it comes to staying in the lines of my children's coloring books. Watch out, y'all.)

Once I went to confession, and the priest hearing confessions and I really did not get along well, but fortunate for me, there was a screen between us! When it came time to give me penance, he asked me what I loved to do. I told him I loved to draw. My penance was to draw in adoration for an hour. I cried nearly the entire time, and it changed the way I thought about prayer. While I taught Totus Tuus, I often told the kids that God gave us the voices we had to praise him so good or bad, we better let him hear it. (If you have never been to daily Mass during Totus Tuus, it is the most remarkable thing to hear all of those children singing their hearts out. There may or may not be bribery involved.) It had never occurred to me to use my talents to communicate with God. So I do.

I am excited about returning to perpetual adoration, as I mentioned yesterday. I will probably go pick up a fresh notebook and some pencils, because I have some praying to do!

On a related note, I thought I would share my favorite paintings with you. They are not religious in nature, but it is truly beautiful to recognize the talent God puts in our hands.

Chuck Close
Self Portrait

If you ever want to read about overcoming adversity, read about Close. His story is just darn fascinating. I am in awe of his work. 

Ivan Albright
That Which I Should Have Done I Did Not Do

Trust. There are two things that I would begrudgingly live in Chicago for: this pizza place near the Art Institute and this painting. The photo does not do it justice. I got to show this and a few other paintings of his to my parents a few years ago and it was the closest thing to a pilgrimage I have ever been on. If I had an entire day to stare at it I would. His work is remarkable.

Van Gogh
Starry Night

Yep. It is cliche', but I don't care. My very first trip to an art museum was to the one in Kansas City, and they have a small Van Gogh and I stared at that thing for twenty minutes before they made me move on with the group. No one evokes emotion with the stroke of a paint brush like Van Gogh. No one. 

We all have talents and things that are a source of joy. Know what yours is and do not forget it. I am not Van Gogh, Albright or Close, but I feel a connection to God when I am using my body to do things He created me to do. Find yours.