Friday, January 23, 2015

Seven Quick Takes vol. 112




Popping in real fast to join the FUNNIEST BLOGGER around, Kelly!



{one}



Last call for the Sheenazing Awards! Go vote right now because Bonnie will be closing the polls later this afternoon. I can't tell you how great it feels to be nominated, these awards really do support Catholic bloggers in a tangible way, Bonnie does such a wonderful thing! I've found some new blogs I can't believe I haven't read because frankly, I read A LOT of blogs. And that's pretty awesome!



{two}



This week has been one where I've really noticed how reluctant I am to give of myself. Read another story? Fix this toy right now? Sit with a crying baby again? All these little mothering things have felt really hard this week. I mean, they often feel hard, but this week it happened again and again where I felt myself wanting to pull away and not do it and just throw up my hands. I'm not sure what this is all about, if I'm just going through a January patch of discouragement, or if it is some kind of resistance that's a little different, or it it may just be a reminder of how very un-giving of myself I can be. But that's an observation I found this week.



{three}

It was much warmer than it looks!


YOU GUYS!! This week's weather was so awesome I can't even tell you. Like, plus Celsius digits...that is such a big deal for January up here. Snow was physically melting!! I could actually walk outdoors and think I didn't have to zip up my down-lined to my knees parka! It's a small but lovely miracle and climate change be praised!



{four}

I need good movie suggestions! Have you seen something relatively recent you've loved? We are really suffering a dearth of inspiration in the movie department and I don't even know what I'm in the mood for...there's got to be something good I haven't seen!




{five}



Haley and I talked about some awesome books this week on the podcast and it seems like a lot of you liked it and we're not just nerds talking to ourselves! So podcast win! 

I'm so happy to hear so many of you have read Dorothy L. Sayers because she's one of my favourite writers of all time. Makes my heart happy!



{six}






Blessed Is She has created a beautiful Lenten prayer journal package that looks fantastic! If you're already looking ahead to Lent an how best to enter into the season please consider this awesome journal. And if you want it I suggest getting one quick because the Advent journals sold out! 


{seven}



I'm off to the city to enjoy a couple days in civilization and soak up this glorious non-freezing weather. We're going out to fancy dinners and staying at a hotel so those are some of my absolute favourite things in life and I intend to revel in them. I hope you all have a great weekend!





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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Popes, Planes, and Common Sense






I hesitate somewhat to join the excessive noise over Pope Francis's recent gab-fest on a plane because there is just so much noise about it. But sometimes a girl's just gotta blog.

I wish I could be surprised at people's reactions to the Pope's somewhat off-the-cuff comments. I wish less people were jumping to conclusions, overreacting without reading the proper translation, and taking things so personally. The translation is fairly clear and easy to read.

The Pope was going on a bit of a random tangent as he is prone to do while at cruising altitude, and brought up a women he knew who was having a lot a children via caesarean section contrary to medical advise. A few minutes later he refers to this woman when he is asked about family planning and poverty saying that it is not Catholic teaching for Catholics to act like rabbits. Which is true because we're human beings not animals who are slaves to their instincts. This is something the Church has never wavered on but has only become clearer and clearer about: people must use their sexuality in a way suitable to their nature, they cannot separate the reality of procreation from sexual activity nor are they meant to be procreating cogs in some kind of creation machine. Family planning must reflect the dignity of the human person. We are soul and body, capable of making intelligent decisions when we should further our families and at the same time are capable of restraint from engaging in sex. These concepts go hand in hand; if we're against contraception because it denies life, treats the human person below it's dignity, and lacks respect for our partner then we also should make the connection that we're rational beings who are responsible for our families, for bringing new life into the world, for the lives that we have already brought into the world, and for ourselves and our spouse.

The problem with this teaching as with almost every other Catholic teaching is the extremes. It is so hard to get the teaching of the Church regarding family planning right because orthodoxy (to paraphrase Chesterton) is a precariously thin line between extremes. The extreme of using contraception to "plan" a family is an easy extreme that gives us human beings complete control, or more factually the illusion of complete control, over fertility. While the opposite extreme comes into play when people treat family planning as something that doesn't require human decision and input. God's plan for sex and our fertility is for us to be co-creators with him, to choose to open our hearts and bodies to the possibility of life at each and every act of sex while at the same time using our reason and understanding about when it may or may not be appropriate to be engaging in the activity that may make a baby. This teaching is a two sided coin that helps us understand our roles as co-creators with God while being responsible parents.

But again, it is right in the middle of extremes where orthodoxy resides. The Church's teaching doesn't seek to dehumanize us as cogs in God's people making machine with no choice or use of reason when it comes to parenthood, having as many babies as often as possible. But it is equally dehumanizing to rely on artificial means to stop conception as if we had no control over our sexual instincts.

It's really a good dose of common sense that sees the extremes yet realizes that virtue is found in the mean. The important fabric of Catholic teaching regarding family size is no exception to common sense.

As Catholics we've got to employ a little more common sense to everything else. Like the internet, like the media, like presuming the Pope said something and immediately taking offence or being hurt or getting upset. Because just as it is common sense to know that the media today will give their front teeth to catch the Pope saying something shocking, there is also common sense in believing that the Pope is a wise man who knows his stuff. It's a large leap to think that the Pope would want to offend large families and sacrificial mothers after all the wonderful things he's said about large families. He clearly has a great deal of appreciation for large families and is working hard to make helping all families a priority for the Church as a global whole.

And while I know that Pope Francis is a talkative guy who likes to let it all hang out so-to-speak when talking to reporters in airplanes, I also am sure that he does not intends to change Church teaching on a plane ride. Sure, I think that this most recent plane ride offered a lot of low hanging fruit for a media intent on finding imaginary change on fundamental strongholds of Catholic dogma. I also think that the way the media's portrayal of these comments to our society that is largely completely ignorant to basic Catholic beliefs will probably lead to more misinformation and misbelief across the board. Maybe it'll open up more opportunities for us to more clearly explain the nuances and fine line of what real Catholic orthodoxy regarding family planning is really all about, or maybe it will lead to a lot more strangers in the grocery store making snap judgements about me and my close age range of a handful of kids as being "more Catholic than the Pope."

But what if we use common sense to think about these supposed "gaffes"? The Pope is saying nothing untrue, he is simply saying things in ways our spin-saturated Western ears cringe at. They amount to chances to evangelize at best and annoyances at worst. Annoyances that are very small things to suffer and offer up especially when we realize we don't face forced abortions in our country if we have more than one child, we don't sleep in fear that our whole village will be massacred by barbarians because we are Christian, but that we have been given many gifts including freedom and formed consciences in the gift of the Catholic faith and to live our those truths. The Pope's job isn't to make life as easy as possible for us staying true to the faith in the Western world, or any part of the world, the Pope's job is to lead us all to Christ; the Way, the Truth, and the Life -- and we all know that we reach the truth faster when we use common sense.



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Monday, January 19, 2015

A Snowy Monday Morning







Ever wake up Monday morning and wonder where the weekend went?

I don't even know what I did this weekend! We didn't do anything exciting, but as we all know since becoming adults -- that's the best kind of weekend of all!

This morning the snow is falling and it makes me feel like I should really figure out how to photograph snow again, but what I've really been doing is dishes, schoolwork, and changing a lot of stinky diapers, a fact that is only remarkable because I now only have one kid in diapers but this girl has the diaper output of about 3 kids. It's her gift.




I've also been putting off the "frog" of putting away three loads of laundry. My philosophy with the "frog" thing is to wake up Monday morning, know that I really don't look forward to a chore, and ignore it until at least Friday morning. Don't worry, my book on the subject isn't coming any time soon!

In much happier news I'm really chuffed to be nominated in Bonnie's wonderful Catholic blogging awards, the Sheenazing Awards! Thank you so much for thinking of me, because it's honestly a thrill to be in the same categories of so many wonderful blogs that I read so often and that mean a lot to me. Also; the podcast has been nominated and Haley and I are both so happy, we'd love your vote - although not voting for Jen Fulwiler in anything is really difficult, I know! So do hop over and vote, because there are some really awesome blogs nominated that deserve your clicks and your votes! And thank the lovely Bonnie while you're there, she does a great job supporting small Catholic blogs like yours truly. And have a great Monday, may you put off all your frogs till at least Wednesday!








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Friday, January 16, 2015

Seven Quick Takes vol. 111


Recapping the week with Kelly, visit This Ain't the Lyceum for the bestest (and read how Kelly works out to a certain podcast!).


{one}



Is it still January? Oh, it's January forever you say? This week was fairly unexciting, the weather was horrific, but the week was unexciting. And that's the wrap up for my week, you're welcome.



{two}



Just kidding, I've got 6 more takes to go!
The boys have been hitting the lego pretty hard in these last few cabin feverish weeks, and I can't fault them. They've been creating various flying gliders and things that they keep telling me are extremely important, it's sweet. Gemma is completely into Heidi, and it that feels like a major step because she doesn't really fall into listening to chapter books easily. So far she's been a big fan of the Little House books and now Heidi. I'm going to make her a bookworm yet! 



{three}



Let me tell you what the toddlers were up to this week: emptying drawers, emptying cupboards, spilling baking soda all of the bathroom floor, emptying containers of play-doh then hiding play-doh in bedrooms, emptying laundry baskets full of folded laundry, emptying bags of recyclables, trying to empty the garbage can (can I at least get mom points for not letting them do that?). When you've only got toddlers this all seems to be a big deal, but now I hardly even notice and take the mess for the price of ten uninterrupted minutes. It's a steep price, but I'm willing to pay it.



{four}

There were so many great things to read that I loved this week. Did you read Jenny's post on babies and debt? I completely understand where she's coming from with this post and I think the issue is a big one and very multifaceted. For each person the price of kids and it's importance will be measured against choosing to implement NFP or not, and that's a personal decision. But one solid foundational piece of Catholic social teaching is that the economic system as well as government should never be forcing unneeded burdens upon families, because that makes these choices even harder to make and maybe even takes away the choice altogether. I love that the family is the cornerstone of Catholic social teaching and that it always come back around to how we can best support the basic structure of society. I'm digressing from what Jenny said I think, but I just like that fact.



{five}

Hallie also wrote such a great post that I've honestly been dying to read for probably 8 years. It's something that I've dealt with probably 5 times over and will probably deal with my whole life. It's probably a very personal issue for me and all my issues, but I love how Hallie talks about it.

I love how Hallie talks about most things...as you can tell from my fangirl-ing in this week's podcast episode. I just thought it was such a wonderful conversation and I'm sure we'll want to have Hallie on as a guest again, or every month or so!



{six}



In a little bit of news I got published in a real live, in print, magazine! I had a previous blog post picked up in Catholic Insight, a Canadian Catholic magazine, in their December issue. Kinda a sweet little dream of mine come true. You can't read it online but I'm sure you'd love to receive a real live, in print Catholic magazine in the mail right? You can subscribe over here.



{seven}

Is everyone catching up on Downton Abbey? I definitely found some of the story-lines tiresome in this season, I'm talking to you Mary, but overall I feel as if the season gets better as it goes on and is much better than say, season three. Also, the Christmas special is highly enjoyable if you make it all the way through. Just some tv watching encouragement - because that's the type of coaching I'm qualified for!

Hope you all have a great weekend, I'm praying the husband doesn't get called to work too much because it's his on-call weekend...we'll see how it goes....





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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

January: Digging Real Deep









You guys know me -- I'm fairly confident I could win Miss Cabin Fever 2014 from last year. I had a really rough winter last year with a nursing baby, 4 other small people who don't navigate the world on their own, and so many days of bitter cold and not getting out of the house. January is just the worst. And Canada just seems to pour on the bad weather during this month, it's so dark and dreary with no festivities to look forward to, etc. etc. etc. It's a big, unavoidable pile of dismal.

This January I'm trying to do a little better. I don't have a nursing baby so I'm getting out of the house a little more, although not as much as I should, and I'm trying to dig deep for positivity to distract myself from how long this bemoaned month is.

On the better side of things since I can't get out the house I've figured that I might as well hunker down and do some major decluttering and organizing. The New Year gives me a bit more motivation in this department and since last week I've got TWO whole areas cleaned and organized. Which seems like a pittance of course, to you single ladies with all the uninterrupted time, but to me when organizing only happens in the 2-3 minute segments I try and hide from my kids it's an accomplishment. And accomplishments make January stomach-able. (That should really be a word by the way.)

Homeschooling has been plugging along, and since there are fewer distractions I feel as if we're making good progress just repeating and getting in a bit of groove with things. I think that's the beauty of ordinary days because that's where the real habits form and where real learning happens - slowly over time. If we're looking for positive, then it's a positive that we're chugging along nicely, getting things done, reading good books, everyday even for a small amount of time each day. Woot!

I'm also giving myself a little leeway to take things easy on myself even though I'm trying to organize the house a little, and clean more which really take up what extra time I've got in the in-betweens of caring for babies. Maybe I should just read a little more, maybe an episode of Parenthood isn't the end of the world, or chatting with a friend is more important folding another basket of laundry. I just find that when I think those things aren't important I get much more irritable and angry and frustrated and that's what begins the downward cycle of winter-hating-stay-at-home-mom-depression.





This winter I've been cross country skiing with the husband on the weekends and it's been really nice. As much as I hate physical activity it is worlds better to get outdoors and do something, and have a reason to go outdoors in the cold, than to spend another day never seeing the sun. I'm also trying to do this little 7 minute workout everyday because it's 7 minutes. 7 minutes is the sweet spot of workouts am I right?? Seriously, I go for it for 7 minutes, then feel no qualms whatsoever settling in with a glass of wine in the evening. Sure, I'm not losing lots of pounds but I'm moving and every little bit helps in that department. When I'm feeling really ambitious or stressed I still love to do the SoulCore workout because I feel worlds better after doing it.





What also puts a little pep in my step are new glasses. I'm a glasses-a-holic I know, but I figure since I have to wear them they should be an accessory. Elton John is on to something here. I've recently gotten a pair from Firmoo that I'm really loving. I hope ombre isn't passé because I'm fully on board the two year old trend with this pair of glasses. Firmoo have a great selection of glasses, and a price point that makes it really easy to add a pair to your collection without breaking the bank. It's a little something you could do to perk yourself up in the dregs of winter!

Oh - also a quick happy in January - some Jamberrys. I'm getting a bit addicted to these nails. They're easy, they never chip, they've got many great patterns that make me smile.

And another thing! A daughter who's becoming quite the 7 year old blog photographer for her mum!



         

  

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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Seven Quick Takes vol. 110




Joining Kelly a little late, but I thought I'd just check in!



{one}



Well, we eased back into normal life this week and the reentry was pretty tough. I have no idea what happened to the laundry situation around here but it was as if we all went on a three week vacation far, far, away from any washing machines and wore everything we all owned. But in actuality we didn't really go anywhere, I still did what felt like the same normal gargantuan amount of laundry over the holidays, and yet it took me three days to even get close to catching up. Because I never really catch up do I? It's a vicious circle, my friends...



{two}



The easing back into school went much better however! I think I'll try to actually devout a whole post to homeschooling sometime soon, but I was very pleased that everyone still could recall letter sounds. I had very low expectations after our two and a half week break, but surprisingly they surpassed them! We're also reading some good books, hope to read a little more "history" this semester, and we're making tangible progress in math which has felt so long in coming. Yay positivity!



{three}

I'm still finding Christmas stuff that should have been packed away when I was packing all the Christmas things away this week. Little reminders that make me feel completely unorganized. I thought I had got it all away and could feel a bit of January freshness, but the decorations haunt me in every room! And Max keeps finding different pieces of the kid nativity scenes everywhere.



{four}



We loved talking to Kelly on the podcast this week. Did you get a chance to listen yet? It was great talking about planning and...life!
 I would love to say that I am getting much better at podcasting, but just last week I made a huge technical gaffe and Haley and I had to scrap a whole episode. I think what's challenging in learning new skills at this time in my life is that I simply don't have good chunks of time to "practice". I'm constantly having to relearn things in ten minute bites! A New Year's resolution is to keep trying to get better at these things, but then again it took me a while to learn this blogging stuff...


{five}



I love Kelly's planner. I love that it leaves lots of room to write whatever you need to, and I'm adding all sorts of lists to the pages, which sorta sounds like chaos, but it's much better than me putting lists and things in a bunch of different places like I usually do. Baby steps.
Another resolution is for me to attempt meal planning because cooking this week almost killed me. I feel like I can either clean or cook or homeschool, but the combination of all three feels like it's going to crush me sometimes. And usually the hardest part for me is figuring something out to actually eat. It's just some mental block I have. So the other night I pulled out my favourite cookbooks and wrote a month's worth of recipes into the planner. I want to use my cookbooks more because I love them, and always feel lazy not using them. Two birds, one pesky resolution stone.

{six}

I picked my saint of the year from Jen's saint generator, and received St. Fabiola of Rome. She's the patron of difficult marriages, victims of abuse, victims of unfaithfulness, victims of adultery, divorced people, and widows. I swear, every saint I've picked the last couple years are patrons of really terrible things. And I'll also state for the record that my marriage is in now way especially difficult right now, and no abuse or all that other bad stuff! Thankfully. I guess she wants some cheerful intercessions, or something. She was a great friend of St. Jerome who was a tough cookie to be friends with but he really liked her so that's gotta say something for her personality. She musta been feisty!



Also, when I was doing a little research I found this wacky article of an art exhibit done about her which I found completely fascinating. It's a beautiful original portrait.

{seven}



January. It's a helluva month. I'm trying to give myself a little credit and not feel too much pressure. We were all inside all week because of temperatures not getting out of the -20's, so cabin fever may kill me. I'm allowing a bit more tv, more book reading for me, and trying not to look at the calendar. But there are some really rough days. Please let it warm up just a little so I can throw some kids outside!

Hope you all are having a great weekend!





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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Digging Out From Under It All










Sometimes I feel as if I started blogging because of the long, dark winters and my need to communicate with the outside world on days where it was too cold to go outdoors. Just me and my babies in a house in the cold writing a little her and there, adding some comfort to going it alone with kids - and it feels so much like sending a message out in a bottle. For this reason I feel so comforted by this little blog on weeks like this, where the temperature doesn't rise above -20, the wind blows, the snow billows down. It feels comforting and nostalgic somehow to tippity-tap a little blog post because it's what I've been doing for almost four winters now. Time flies as they say, but here I am slightly altered in four years but still very much ensconced, and mashed into life with little kids.

I know looking back over last years blogging that I wrote a lot about difficult days. Thanks for sticking with me through what felt like monthly reports on how hard ordinary days can be. I just want to have things equally and honestly documented, so hopefully my good posts outweighed the whiney/bad because the good very much outweighs the bad, and even ekes out the difficult.

That all being said, my goodness, I want to write down how crazy my days are right now so I never, ever, ever forget and somehow become a delusional grandmother who only thinks toddlers paint rainbows and coo cuteness.

Yesterday I endured the same question about missing pants about 777 times before lunch. Then, soon after lunch was finished another child asked about the same pants. There are so many questions thrown my way, and being the only person around to answer and supply answers I am greatly in demand. Everything is an emergency!

I'm getting closer to having a child able to make some form of nutritional sustenance, but most likely decades away from getting through a meal without kids arguing with each other, having to tell people repeatedly to just eat, wrangling someone into a chair to eat, and enduring requests for more food/water when they have yet to finish the food/water in their mouths.

I'm still constantly breaking up fights and disagreements. I know it's normal child-like behaviour but it is exhausting. I try to provide different activities for everyone, but everyone needs to do the same thing all the time. The 3 year old must do what the 7 year old does exactly the same. And if you dare to defy this rationale it is a 45 minute battle/tantrum/timeout to come.

I know all my babies born so closely together is an embarrassment of riches and a near pregnancy record, but the sheer number of them clambering for things at a near constant rate is really unbelievable at times. I wish I could believe it's working some serious years off purgatory time for me, but the daily losings of it add up mighty fast.

But the days do pass quickly in a way, too fast to sit down, or type, or fit in this or that. The laundry piles up faster than man or machine can wash them, the meals don't plan or cook themselves, groceries don't appear by magic, there is always a baby to wash, a child to clothe, a book to be read. Oh, and because of the weather at least 15 minutes to appropriately attire everyone so they don't die of hypothermia by stepping outside!

But under the piles of work, and sheer multitude of toddler-ness, are five people who love me more than anything. That's what I can't miss. It's not the "magical moments", or the fleeting memories, or the need for their every waking moment to be bliss (or mine to be free of guilt), that I can't afford to miss: it's the love. The love freely and wholly given to me by five dear, perfect, souls who give it to me every day no matter what mistakes I make and how many times I make them. That's what's happening now and being given to me now. There's no guarantee that this love will always be there, it will change, and as they grow I won't be their "best one", but they will hopefully love me through my faults and failings. The love will be different. That's why I can't miss the love under it all. 






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