Saturday, August 30, 2014

Weekend Reading: Volume 2

Linking up with Jen.

-1-

Okay, so first of all, we started our new preschool curriculum this week...and we are loving it! I read a number of reviews before ordering it (ones from Haley, Grace, Dwija, and Ginny) and I haven't been disappointed. It gives us a good balance of structure, an amazing reading list every week, and still plenty of flexibility if we want to add our own activities (and we do!). I'm trying to stretch each letter unit to last two weeks, and I don't think we'll have a problem doing that.

-2-

Speaking of homeschool preschool, I found this post very helpful! I think that even if we weren't currently a homeschooling family, I would still want to use Lacy's tips to supplement our learning at home.

-3-

Jenny is always some kind of wonderful, and her post on "her mission field" was exactly what I needed to hear this week. It's so easy to forget how important our everyday work is.

-4-

Lindsay is expecting another gorgeous child, and she is suffering from some pretty severe pregnancy nausea. As long time readers know, I've had my own jaunts with hyperemesis gravidarum, so my heart really goes out to her. So, first of all...pray for Lindsay and child! But secondly, I'm intrigued by the article she linked to. I think I've read it before, but I'm considering it more seriously now. Does anyone know anything about colloidal silver? H. pylori is definitely my issue, and I've made a lot of diet changes to decrease bread/pasta stuff in my diet (in addition to the crazy low oxalate diet due to my previous kidney stones) and I'm sure that that will help. My diet pre-Maria was basically bread, bread, bread, so I'm sure that contributed to how awful that pregnancy was. Because I'm still breastfeeding (and don't want to wean yet) a round of strong antibiotics to eradicate the h. pylori isn't an option...soooo collodial silver? Anyone know more about it?

I've been venting to Andrew about how frustrating hyperemesis gravidarum is. There has been so little research done on it, that even the doctors who are HG "experts" can really only offer options to support you in the throws of it. There really aren't any experts to turn to (other than this website!) for advice. I hope that changes by the time my daughters are having children. (Unless the whole superhero thing doesn't pan out for Therese and she decides to be a pink sister.)

-5-

Grace cracks me up every time! And if you don't already, definitely follow her on Instagram.

-6-

Bonnie's vlogs are amazing. Be sure to check out her older vlogs, too! I really hope EWTN picks her up one of these days. ;-)

-7-

Friday, August 29, 2014

{phfr} - Of Preschool, Pooh (in Latin), and Priests

Linking up with Like Mother, Like Daughter. Go fall in love with Suki's adorable little boy!!!

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We're missing a member of our class...but we had our first preschool co-op class this week! We took an unplanned summer break, but now we're back at it. (For those of you who are wondering, our co-op uses this curriculum.)

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I've told you about him before, but Andrew's dissertation director has been such a blessing in our family's lives! To boot, he also has excellent restaurant recommendations. We had dinner with him the other night, and the girls behaved beautifully, and we all had so much fun. :-)

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According to Maria, Winnie the Pooh is better in Latin. Just in case you were wondering.

(On a sidenote...this little sweetheart has fallen in love with books! She devours them. Literally.)

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Those of you who follow us on Instagram already know this...but Andrew started teaching at our Archdiocesan seminary this week! He'll be teaching two sections of Greek there this year. Major perk? Families are welcome to come to daily Mass! We met Andrew over there for midday Mass this past Thursday, and were invited to stay for lunch at the refectory (another perk for professors and their families!!). I was in awe during Mass. Being in the presence of so many young men discerning the call to the priesthood...it was just so incredibly special to be able to pray with them. After Mass, we got to meet some of Daddy's students. Then, while Therese and I were getting our food, the rector of the seminary actually came up to me and asked me if I was Andrew's wife, and thanked me for bringing our girls! He told me very emphatically that we are welcome to come back anytime. Talk about family-friendly! More than one person told us how much they loved seeing the girls there, and how it was good training for parish Masses to come. ;-)

I am so thrilled that Andrew is teaching over there this year (and super proud of him!!). It is just such an unique experience to be a part of the formation of these young men. And you guys...this seminary is thriving! They have a ton of seminarians! Being at a place like that makes me very, very hopeful for the future of our Church.




Tuesday, August 26, 2014

WIWS - Quick and to the Point...

Linking up with Fine Linen and Purple for "What I Wore Sunday." Hop on over there for more loveliness!

Andrew started teaching at our Archdiocesan seminary today. (Greek. The boy is teaching Greek!) Do you have any idea how proud of him I am? :-)

To celebrate, the girls woke up at 5am (very excited baby, evidently) and 5:30am, and we had a full day. A good day mind you, but a full one. We hung out with our neighbors later, and she mentioned that she saw us walking all over whenever they were on their way to preschool in the mornings. I think she may think we're a wee bit crazy, but our early morning walks have been helping me stay sane. It's too dark to go out when everyone first wakes up, and Andrew usually likes to take them to 7am Mass (which I tag along to sometimes) but we've got to get out before 8:00 to beat the heat! 111 degrees heat indexes midday? No thank you.

Anyway, in addition to all the busyness of life, I have a project I've been working on (for a while, actually) that I want to tell you about so badly but can't yet. All in good time! It's occupying much of my time that I usually use for blogging, so sorry I've been a bit scarce round these parts.

At any rate...here's what we wore Sunday! I think you can actually see the humidity in the picture...



I hope you're having a great week, everyone!!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

{phfr} Wiggly Baby on my lap...

Linking up with Like Mother, Like Daughter!

I wish I could write more tonight...but this picture heavy post is sponsored by the very wiggly, grumpy baby on my lap!!!


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My adorable goddaughter (that's a major flashback link there...she's three years old, now, but just as adorable as ever) recently got an adorable baby sister. Said baby sister and Maria are about the same age difference as my goddaughter and Therese. AND their mother is one of my best friends. Three pairs of girl buddies? Lovely.

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We started preschool again recently! I didn't intend to take time off this summer, but I am so glad that we did. Upcoming post about all that, but for now a picture of a painting session during "school time".



{funny}


On two separate occasions recently, I was asked, "Are there twins in there?" and "They look close in age, are they?" Just today, someone commented, "You've got double trouble, there!"

They're almost three years apart, people. ;-)

Oh, and I have to share this story...

"

Therese: Mommy, do you know what this is?
Me (basing my guess on an earlier picture): Um, a shark?
Therese: Yeah! That's the baby shark and he's eating all his brothers and sisters...

I wish I could be shocked, but I'm actually amazed that she remembered that detail from a video we watched on youtube over a month ago. (I can't find the video now, and it's gross enough that I'd rather not share it anyway.)

And while I was looking for that video just now, I found this awesome video (which is actually similar to a song that she's sung at storytime with Miss Laura...but, um...this one is a lot funnier and has a slightly disturbing ending):




{real}


A box of fifteen hardcover classics for....$10!!! A major book sale win. We've already been enjoying the copy of Alice in Wonderland that came with the set. (Definitely have been inspired by Rosie's read alouds with her crew!) 

I know that we had some repeats from the Instagram feed this week...hop on over there and follow us if you don't already!!!

Alright...now to go retrieve that wiggly baby from Andrew (who saved the day blog post by scooping her up from me mid-post...my hero!).

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

4 Tips for Switching Parishes

Linking up with Fine Linen and Purple for "What I Wore Sunday."

I mentioned in a recent post that we are in the process of switching parishes. We haven't moved (although we've experienced joining a new parish for that reason as well) but we are finally switching over to our geographic parish. There were a number of factors that came in to play, but after some prayerful discernment, we realized God was nudging us to join the little parish up the street.

I always feel kind of unsettled when joining a new parish, and I thought it might be helpful to share some ways that I've found to make the transition a bit smoother.

1. Officially register at your new parish.
Yes, when in transition, it can be kind of nice to just go to Mass at your new parish for a while without officially joining. The danger in that is that you can end up feeling a bit like a nomad. Your parish is yours...but it isn't. I think that - like with any commitment that you've brought to prayer - God gives you a lot of grace with your "yes." Once you've officially joined your parish it is your home away from home, even if it may not feel that way for a little while. You are tied to them, your family is officially on their radar, and it's easier to take ownership (i.e. introducing yourself to people, signing up for liturgical ministries, etc.)

2. Officially un-commit to anything you are committed to at your old parish...but don't necessarily bid your friends farewell for good!
In our 5 years of marriage, we've belonged to 3 parishes (counting our newest one). At each of our previous two parishes, we were involved in some way. It's just a matter of common courtesy to contact the necessary people and tell them that you'll be switching parishes and no longer able to participate in your ministries/activities anymore. If you can fulfill any previous commitments you've made. For example, if you're a lector and you're close enough to finish your lectoring commitments, go back and do so!

Let your friends know if you're switching parishes, but don't lose those connections! We've found some wonderful friends at each parish, and have found friendships worth maintaining.

3. Go to daily Mass at your new parish. 
The daily ╬ťass goers are often the ones in the know! Just coming to Mass every day, or even just a couple times a week, can help you get to know your pastor and some of the other parishioners better.

4. Be patient with yourself!!!
Transitioning parishes can be unsettling...give yourself time to adjust, and be patient with yourself in the meantime!

And now for what we wore Sunday. :-)





Friday, August 15, 2014

The Day We Defied the Culture...

...or, also known as our wedding day. ;-)

First off, happy fifth anniversary, my Love.


From the very beginning, our marriage has been a matter of vocation. Yes, we were (and are!) in love with each other. But more importantly, we wanted to learn how to love each other. We wanted to learn how to give totally of ourselves for the sake of the others. We wanted to help each other get to heaven. Five years in...none of these things have been achieved entirely, but we're growing in that direction.

It's funny, because we did things in a "conventional" way - but in our upside down world where pleasure rules the day and self-control is laughed at, we were, well, a bit unconventional. And, in recent years especially, it's become more and more apparent that the vocation of marriage is itself something that much of culture misunderstands and contradicts. Even asserting that you believe that marriage can only be between a man and a woman parks you solidly in the camp of bigotry. Take it a step further and start talking about openness to life, chastity, prayerful discernment, taking up your cross...and you sound downright crazy!




For better or for worse (pun intended) marriage - traditional, Sacramental marriage - is becoming an act of defiance. And yet, from the outside, it may not look all that different. People wouldn't look at us on the street and say, "Oh, I bet that they don't use birth control and they most definitely had con-celebrating priests at their wedding Mass!" No, people look at us and (especially because we currently have only two children and seem to naturally space them pretty far apart) and think, "Oh, what a nice, normal family." 

And, in a lot of ways, we're not drastically different from other families. But, if you really live out the Sacrament of Marriage, it changes you. And the changes are uncomfortable. And the changes are internal. The sacrifices are secret, and sometimes painful and unappreciated. 


Because, when prayer is a part of your marriage, you add another person in to the picture. And His opinion begins to matter alot to you. And sometimes, His ideas on things are different than yours. And so, you learn to trust. 

I could get into all sorts of specifics here, but the point is - God's ways are not our ways. And God's plans are not our plans. And when we take that leap of faith and decide to ask Him to be a part of our marriage - well, things often end up looking much less comfortable and very different than what we envisioned.




I remember, when in high school and really starting to make my faith my own, one day deciding that I didn't want my life to be ordinary. Naturally, I though that meant that, "God is going to force me to be a nun!" Imagine my surprise when I realized He was calling me to marriage. But do you know what? My life has been far from ordinary. And do you know what else? I wouldn't change a thing about it.


Because when God gave me this incredible man as my vocation, He changed me. He made me love in a way I never thought possible. He made me willing to step out of my comfort zone, to be willing to do things that might not be popular in the eyes of the world - for the sake of love. Ultimately, that is what a vocation is. God hooks you with His love - often working through another person or a whole "order" or "diocese" of people! - and when you say yes...you say yes because of that love. Then, He gives you the grace to keep saying yes, and to keep loving. And one day you are surprised to see how much your heart has been changed by sacrificial love.

I trust God so much more now, because of my husband. Andrew has shown me God's love in such an incredible way. More importantly, he has taken me by the hand and decided to walk this path to heaven together with me. This isn't to say that a single day is easy. We've had our share of crosses, but we've also had so much grace. And I am convinced that that grace is the grace that comes from the Sacrament of Marriage. I'm convinced that we couldn't have made it through even a single day of our marriage were it not for that grace.

And my heart overflows with gratitude for this precious vocation of mine. In the words of St. Therese, "My vocation is love!"


Here's to many more years together, my Love.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Smartphones in a Fallen World - the Good and the Bad

Linking up with Like Mother, Like Daughter. The pictures are unrelated to the content today. But I promise that they're lovely. ;-)

Jenny hit it on the nose again the other day. Honest to goodness, when I read her posts, they typically feel uncomfortably close to home. When I first read this post (about mothering and distraction, specifically of the electronic sort) I initially expected the same old spiel I always hear - "Put your phone down and look at your kid. Don't be selfish." But Jenny, ahhh...she just has such a nonjudgmental way of writing that I was actually able to hear her, you know?

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He didn't know I was taking the picture. He never would have posed for it. ;-)

Now, I'm in a stage where I don't use screen time as much as I did, say, a year ago - back when I had a newborn followed by the post-partum kidney stone drama. Back then, I looked at screens, Therese looked at screens, and we were just plugging along (pun not intended, but true nonetheless). Now, granted, there are some days that I still really need to make use of screens, and I know that I'm not the only mom of littles that does that. (And when even KENDRA admitted to needing to plop her kids in front of the TV alot when she had only littles...well, that made me feel a little more normal!) But overall, what Jenny hits on is the attitude that we mothers sometimes have about distracting ourselves with smartphones and laptops and TVs and such. Go back and click on that link, because she says it so well. But the gist is - are we actively seeking to be distracted from our kids? Are we losing an opportunity to grow and to grow closer to them if we are? It's excellent. Read it.

(I promise Jenny didn't pay me to tell you all that.)

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But I think that our attraction to screens does highlight how lonely it can sometimes be to raise very young children. Yes, having time with other mothers helps, but some of it is just lonely no matter what you do. It's hard. And if you happen to have some other cross you're bearing (depression or anxiety, super- or sub- fertility, a child with special needs, problems in your marriage or family), then it makes it that much harder.

{funny}


Was in an awful mood. Accidentally got sprayed in the face by a fountain at the Botanical Gardens. Suddenly was in a good mood. Little Goof. ;-)

Okay, my self-proclaimed job is to reassure you about these things, remember? So, I just want to remind you that...well, technology can be a tool. And a good tool at that. Jenny is right...your attitude can make a big difference.

But here's the thing...technology can keep you connected. It can help you distract yourself or your kids when the alternative is going completely batty. Smartphones aren't evil. Laptops aren't evil. TV is not evil. But, like anything else, it's got to be used as a tool, not an end in itself. God is the end. Created things, though, are good, albeit fallen. So, with some vigilance and, of course some mindfulness of your attitude God can even use Facebook and Instagram (and even Pinterest!!!) to bring about good in your life.

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Our audition shots for the new season of Downton Abbey. Or pictures from the dress-up corner of the local children's museum.

Concrete example? I didn't have any handheld device when Therese was a baby. Nursing her to sleep was incredibly stressful for me (which is probably why she nursed to sleep only about two times in her life). I was so focused on the microcosmic world of the rocking chair and a restless baby that I forgot to relax and enjoy the beauty of the moment. With Maria I have had a handheld device the whole time I've had her, she tends to nurse to sleep and/or for long stretches, and I am able to stay calmer and happier because of my Kindle or smartphone. I don't focus on my anxiety about her restlessness, my mind doesn't race - I can pray the Liturgy of the Hours (with one hand!) or read some Jane Austen (my latest project) or even respond to a text or an email. All the while, I am able to mindful that the moment I'm sharing with my daughter is just that...a moment. A moment in her life and in mine. When we're having a good night, I snuggle her close and breathe her in. When I feel myself starting to get stressed or frustrated, I pick up my phone and read a book or a blog, and it reminds me - this too shall pass. Other mothers encounter these same struggles. This frustration is not unusual, and I am not a terrible mother. In those moments - distraction is not my enemy, but a powerful tool to keep my anxiety and hopelessness at bay a bit. Instead of despairing over a baby who won't sleep and is smacking me in the face repeatedly - or who is trying to "self-soothe" in her crib in an angry way - I open a blog or Instagram and see...other mothers. I see their smiling and tired faces, their happy and cranky babies, and I know...I am not alone.

And that, my friends, is a powerful reminder. The evil one wants us to think we're all alone. God wants us to know we're not. And yes...He most certainly is not afraid to use social media to get through to us. ;-)


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