Friday, April 24, 2015

7QT~ My Morning Writing Routine

What is your morning routine? Do you have a writing routine? I do almost all of my writing in the morning. Thus, I give you My Morning Writing Routine.

1.  Wake Up.
Every morning, I wake up before the kids. I have to set an alarm, so that I have time to write, pray/meditate, and do a quick check-in on what’s going on online.  It’s a great system, and one I would definitely recommend to other stay-at-home Moms wanting to add more writing time to their day. I usually wake up around 6am. I am an early bird, and I would love to wake up earlier, but because I’m pregnant, I can’t. Otherwise I would not feel rested! My husband has an app that wakes us up according to our sleep cycles, and it is aptly named SleepCycle (it measures our movement and waits to go off when we have started moving).  So, 6am it is.

2. Really, Actually Wake Up.
I make coffee using my (our) V60, then I wake up my brain by checking in with Feedly and Twitter.  I use those to read blogs, news, and just generally see what’s going on in the world. Sometimes I buy an actual newspaper, but more often than not, I read it online. My favorite newspapers are the New York Times, our local paper, the Times Free Press, and USA Today. I also keep up with several journals and magazines via Twitter, so I check in with those as well.  I also do a quick email check, but I don't use this time to respond to email.

3. Pray.
After my brain is awake, I sip on my coffee and spend time in prayer. I do a short reflection of Scripture and pray, read the Morning Readings, and sometimes pray a Rosary.  If the kids are starting to stir, I sometimes let prayer get rushed, but I try to make at least a few minutes’ time for it everyday. Even a few minutes can make a difference in my day.  With kids, you never know for sure how much time you will have before you are pouring a bowl of cereal, or making pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, or eggs and bacon.  Or pouring juice- or wiping up spills, or getting a bib or what-have-you. If Molly has a test, it's eggs.

4. Blog.
Back to my routine plan/idea.  I then open up my Blogger account, and upload any photos from iPhoto,  or transfer writing from TextEdit that I have done the previous day onto various blogposts. I usually have 2-3 blogposts or articles going at a time.  I use TextEdit to write outlines for blogposts, or to work on articles for Real Housekeeping, and I can add ideas or phrases or quotes that I want to make sure and include in my post or article.  I have a constant itch to write, and I love the process of brainstorming and making outlines, then filling out the outlines (now and) later. The reason that I transfer my writing, is that I turn off the internet in our house after 10 am everyday. Like I said, you never know how much time you’ll have each day for writing when you have kids and stay home with them, so this works for me. I can’t access internet on my laptop at all after 10am, so if I do have an idea for a post during the day, I write it in TextEdit on my Mac.

5. Edit.
I then spend some conscious time and effort editing and polishing my writing until it shines. I make sure the grammar is correct, and the writing has a good flow. I read my writing out loud to myself. I check for any mistakes, grammatical errors, or factual errors.  I double-check my ideas, facts, and my awesome writing work ;) using the almighty Google.

6. Use Social Media.
After spending some time writing and editing, I then go back to Social Media to basically finish up for the day. I check in, usually in the same order everyday. I check Facebook, then Twitter, then Google Plus, then Instagram, and finally, Pinterest. If I’m promoting a post, I add the link to all- or almost all- of those places. If I need ideas for recipes, or if I’m updating a board, I go on Pinterest. I don’t spend as much time with Instagram or Google Plus. I then check Feedly and - let’s be honest- click refresh a bunch of times, because  I love blog-reading, and blogposts are always magically appearing in my Feedly. I subscribe to a bunch of blogs, so it’s fun to see who is posting what each morning.  I have feedly on my iPhone too, so I usually check in with the app again in the afternoon, while waiting for pick-up at the end of my daughter’s school day.

6. Plan the Week
Finally, if I have extra time, I use it to plan my week on Mondays, my day on every other day. In a nutshell, I open my planner (my method is this awesome planner from Hobby Lobby) + iCal to double check dates and deadlines for upcoming posts and articles. I check to make sure I'm ready for the weather- which can be very unpredictable where we live! I otherwise mind-map and write things down to get them out of my brain. Week-planning, or daily planning, done.

7. Read+Answer Email
When I'm done, and I have even more extra time, I read and/or answer email and text back and forth with the hubs (who is by now at work). Sometimes I make another cup of coffee. I have a lot of books going right now, so grabbing a few minutes in the morning for reading, without feeling rushed, is icing on the cake.

What do I love about this morning routine?  I have trained myself to do it all in the morning, so I am very productive during this short amount of time, with writing, and I'm also more productive in my housekeeping and childcare duties, during the day, as well. I love everything about it, actually, because it keeps me consistent about writing and blogging, and the energy comes naturally now. Along with this energy is increased creativity, because I have trained my brain to 'wake up and write.' This past year, we hired a babysitter to help out twice a week for three hours at a time. She moved and I figured out that it is very hard to replace someone so awesome, especially during the Summer. That's the main reason this routine has been my lifesaver this year. It makes me feel like my writing is possible even though I am a stay-at-home Mom. And it is!  I’m passionate about blogging; I think it is a fabulous medium.*

The other reason I like it is that since I have several posts going at a time, I can keep adding links or photos without feeling the pressure to post something right away.  I can spend a good chunk of time each day adding edits, quotes, or thoughts to an article, and then leave it alone for the most part. And I still feel good about it. I don’t pine for more writing time, usually.  My husband knows that the internet turns off at 10am every single day, so he is very gracious with letting me have writing time in the morning. The rest of the day is totally taken up and saturated with childcare and housekeeping. In the evenings, I read or sometimes watch an episode of something on Netflix. I linger with a second cup of coffee on Saturdays, catching up on the news or feedly if I can carve out the time.

If you're wondering how I balance my routine or "do it all," well, this is me on a very good and very productive day.  The time frame is somewhat flexible. I come back to my list throughout the morning while changing diapers and starting Barney. If I have time to blaze through the first several things, then I have time to read. It varies.  If I have a burst of insight or a flash idea during the day, I can always add a little time to write during nap time. But any serious writing time is saved for morning, and I like it that way.

*Some of my favorite blog/bloggers are :
Like Mother, Like Daughter
Modern Mrs. Darcy
Catholic All Year

Does this give you any ideas? What is YOUR routine? Do you work best at night, or in the morning? Or another time of day, such as rest or nap time? Let me know in the comments.

Adding my link to Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum today!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

~Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real~ Books and Bookshelves


Ah, empty bookshelves. A pretty sight.

I finally rearranged the nursery. I truly wanted to hide the couple of spots on the wall, without having to repaint the entire room, so I moved the bookshelf from the girls' room into the nursery. In front of the spots. 
Our resident spitfire, Madeleine Esther.


I divided the book up by categories, according to age and reading level. 
Pictured above are babies and toddlers...

Pre-K and First Grader....

Holidays, and Religious.

She helped me pick flowers and put them into arrangements!

I asked her if she could take a picture, and voila! Photo by Frances!


This is what the girls' bedroom looked like when their bookshelf went missing...


I didn't exactly fit all of the books back on the bookshelf...heh. The nursery looks better, though. And the girls' room as of right now has stacks of books everywhere. That's the way I like it anyway. I mean, not ideal, but books everywhere? There are worse problems. They may soon be finding their home in a closet or basket nearby.
the finished results! :)

~real/random... some thoughts on homeschool~

I thought about sharing this on my About page, but I decided that it probably wasn’t the most significant thing in the world, but it is one thing you may not know about me. I started blogging under the Blog Title “Love Baby Beck” eight years ago.  It was my sounding board for all of my ideas, and thoughts (be they spiritual or just deep), as well as a Mom blog about Molly.  I then switched the blog into a Homeschooling Blog, when Molly was in Pre-K, called “Songbirds in Summerschool.” If you’ve been around the blogosphere for a very long time, you might remember that one.  I used to do the Simple Homeschool (long time fan of Simple Mom/Art of Simple right here!) and other Homeschooling Link-ups, such as 1+1+1=1, and other stuff like that. One thing I will say is… well, two things. First of all, don’t change your blog title. I mean, do, if you really intend to change your blogging identity, which I did. Or do, if your blog title is bad and you need or want to. But don’t if you are a small blogger and want to keep your traffic and allegiances and all of that. I mean, some people can get away with it, but I regret it in some ways. My friends IRL probably are like “Why does she keep changing her blog title? Is she having an identity crisis?” LOL and hahaha. I am happy with my blog title now, though. I will say that.

Second, I was (sort-of?) a homeschooling Mom for a couple of years. (I know, right? Don’t get any ideas).  I was sorta into it, actually. I bought a bunch of curriculum, such as Song School Latin, books like Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, and Bible Verse Memory CD’s, and I borrowed curriculum such as "Before Five in a Row," as well. We spent a lot of time checking out educational books and DVD’s from the library, (chock it up to the amazing and huge library in Hyattsville, Maryland) and doing projects and nature study, too. I read a ton, and I talked to a lot of people about Charlotte Mason and the Design-Your-Own-Classical-Curriculum books by Laura Berquist. I wrote about all of it on my second, short-lived blog. It fizzled, although it was a lot of fun, and I learned and grew from the short, but passionate experience of homeschooling.

Honestly, the reason I did homeschooling was that we were living far from home, so it gave us lots to keep busy with, and I thought Molly would be an early reader, because she was fascinated by books at a very young age. Those two things were my motivation for starting.* But she wasn’t an early reader (turns out she is a total math whiz, though), and I turned the pressure - on myself and on her- way down, realizing the homeschooling Mom hat eventually wasn’t fitting me right anymore. And guess what? She did fine, anyway. For all of the Homeschooling Moms out there, I really, really respect and dig you.  And I do sort-of miss those days of homeschooling, I have to be honest…and I identify with that mindset, totally. But I’m also very thankful for Molly’s Catholic school, too. It's great! So, now you know a bit more about my blogging/personal history if you’re new to this space. Also, if you’re wondering, “Hey, where’d her archives go?” now you know. :0)  A lot of the material isn’t/wasn’t “me” anymore, and I felt like it was just time to move on.

My last real/random? (Maybe this was the other reason I stopped homeschooling... ) Why do I always misplace Library books? Blergh! I have almost lost my steam for even going to the Library because of my lack of skillz with keeping library books straight!

*Also, I spent a couple of years teaching in two amazing Homeschool Co-ops-turned-Classical-schools in Maryland my first three years out of college. I taught Middle School English, High School Rhetoric and Debate, Dance, and Elementary Science to some awesome students that I still miss. So. Anyhow. Fun facts about me, 101. Ha, ha.

Linking to Like Mother, Like Daughter

Monday, April 20, 2015

Weekly Minutiae~ vol. 19 Our Week + All the Thoughts... And Some Ideas and Changes!

So here we are with volume 19!  Before I delve into this week's post, I have a few thoughts to share with you today.  I hate changing up my style, but I've always got fresh ideas, and with those, come ch-ch-ch-changes. I'll be changing up the schedule, and I'm excited about what these changes will mean for my blog.

In the future, I plan to spend more time crafting posts- that doesn't mean I'll be posting much less- and will probably be a bit longer than they were before.  The second change for this space, is that I am going to branch out into a little bit more unknown territory for me.  I think that will include more in-depth posts, with more research, book write-ups and reviews, and perhaps posts wading into territory I normally do not affiliate myself with. Besides the occasional spiritual and/or theological- more political-type posts. So basically, more Catholic stuff, as usual, with the occasional political post sprinkled in the mix.

I really want to keep it familiar around here. That's just me being true to myself. It wouldn't be true to say that I'm a political junkie, but I respect those of you who may be. However, there is nothing wrong with adding more professionalism, and there is nothing wrong with varying the trajectory of my content a bit... and I'm really ready for this change. At the end of this post, I will explain even more about the changes here. Also, keep reading to find out a little bit more about the book that I'm writing.

Now, onto our last Weekly Minutiae / 19th Recap-type post.
This past week, we took Molly to the symphony. We heard two symphonies and one Concerto, written by Mozart, and featuring a wonderful Flute Solo.  The next morning, Stephen played the Concerto while we were eating breakfast, and Molly said, "Is this what we listened to yesterday? Mozart?" Parenting WIN.

Stephen has created a Spotify playlist for all three of our girls. They listen to their "Daddy Playlists" while taking baths and getting ready for bed each night. Songs include: "What Does the Fox Say?" and songs from The Beatles, Queen, Elton John, and Vampire Weekend. The girls belt out the songs. It is such a fun way to wrap up the day... and it is so fun to see them dancing and singing along.

A bit randomly, this week, I received an offer to make money on my blog. This is not the first time I've been asked to write sponsored posts or put ads on my site. After some serious contemplation this time, I decided to say no. I have a disclosure page that describes my intentions for this space and my stance in regard to making money blogging. Read it here.

It was really (really) rainy this week, so we had some home-bound days, which is ok. On Monday I read the paper and had a little freak out session about Hillary. I usually read the paper, but this time I bought a real one. On Tuesday, I got my haircut (3 inches!) and we had a fabulous babysitter while my Mom was out of town, visiting my sister + family as they moved into their new home in Seattle! On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, it rained. I'm not even going to lie- we watched a lot of Barney, and did a lot of crafts. And ate a lot of bunny shaped marshmallows. Because, Easter. And because, Lent = done.

It rained all morning on Monday, but we still were able to head to the playground in the afternoon.
On Thursday, I had an ultrasound which confirmed that my health problems during this pregnancy have resolved! Huge! What an answer to prayer. I am so thankful.  Also, it is definitely a girl. Most definitely, a girl. #4girls1boy #outnumbered We are thrilled!

On Friday, we went to the Dollar Store. Each child got one thing. It was fun... and always a looked-forward to activity for the kiddos! $3 for little toys to play with all day? Yes, please. Parenting win, again. Paddle ball for Frances, Magic wand for Madeleine, and a toy truck for Anders. They were pleased as punch. 

So what you didn’t see this past week was an AMAZING conversation that happened on a private FB page that I’m a part of in my local parish community. It was in response to my post about being a brat… I mean, you know.... for those of you out there who might have the occasional over-indulged child. ahem.;)   Some people weighed in with some really great insight, as well as some … disagreement about the issue- the healthy kind, of course- which has inspired me to write a sequel post addressing some of the issues that came up, with regard to child behavior. So stay tuned in the coming weeks for that! Thank you to those lovely ladies for your comments on that thread! It really was awesome to hear your thoughts and interact about those issues.

~funny things they say~

Frances (while playing with Madeleine): Darling, we’re not playing right now, we’re eating right now.

Molly (upon hearing the sibling in my womb is definitely a girl): YAY!!!!!!!!! I'm so sorry, Anders.

Anders is starting to use a whole lot of words: Be on the lookout for funny things he says very soon! He is such a talker!

~book update~

This week I've been plowing through working on reading Einstein by Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs.  It is really good! I got in trouble for posting a tweet about how Ripley's Believe It or Not lied and said he failed math. He never failed math. But don't tweet it, or you will soon be deleting your tweet... let's just say Ripley's wasn't a fan of that truth/reality. :0(

The Book I'm Writing
This is a different sort of book update! Since this is the last Weekly Minutiae post, I thought it would be a good time to tell you the working title of the book I’m currently writing.  It is called The Lost Sun: Looking for Light in the Midst of Depression. The title comes from a short story by one of my very favorite authors, Flannery O’Connor. No cover yet, as the e-book itself is still in process. And thank you to all of my sweet friends - Shannon, Rachel, and my sister Kira- for reading it and helping me out as I write, as well. And thank you to my awesome editors! Michele being one!

Look for it in the upcoming months. That’s about as specific as I can be at this point, unfortunately!

And thanks again for following along with my little blog, and for all those who have joined Weekly Minutiae in the past- I thank you again- you are the best fans, ever!

~final thoughts~

So, what specifically will I be changing about this space {Picture a Skyline}? The biggest change is that I'm going to start posting a Monthly Recap at the end of every month, rather than a Weekly Minutiae post each week. I still want to do the cute-pictures-of-my-kids, and the funny-things-they-say, and the book updates. I just think that can happen less often.

The question remains: to keep it a link-up?  I joined In-Linkz, as a 6-month membership, so this deal expires in May- very soon- anyway. I don't think I'm going to renew the membership, as it doesn't seem to bring many extras hits to my blog, or be improving my readership much. It has been a fun almost 6 months though! A shout out to Laura and Amanda for joining the link-up regularly or somewhat regularly! I thank you, my sweet friends! Next time it will be Monthly Recap, vol. 20, even though it is not just WM post, I'll keep using vol #'s, just in keeping with the Recap style. See my updated About Page.

I did a lot of writing the last two weeks. To read what I wrote:
Book Update~ Making Up My Mind < are you having trouble deciding what to read this summer?
Bored of Facebook? 7 Reasons I Love Twitter
Why I Don't Like the Word Brat, But I'll Still Tell You To Read a Book That Uses It

By the way, this week I bought Kelly of This Ain't The Lyceum's Planner, and I highly recommend it! Her writing really cracks me up, and I can't wait to print it and actually use the planner portion of it! :-)

Whew! That was a lot. If you made it through this post, I applaud you. :-)

Last time for a chance at the link up! Here we go...

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Book Update 2015~ Making Up My Mind

Popping in here for a little "Saturday Culture." In case you missed it, I wrote up my Books I Hope to Read in 2015 back on January 8. I want to update that post, since my reading and reading plan has changed just a tiny bit, based on my "Books I Want to Read" board on Pinterest.

But-but-but I can't decide! Jenna had some good ideas!

Mainly, I am trying incorporate the Modern Mrs. Darcy challenge into my list, especially in light of "Summer Reading" ideas, and the books I hope to read for that. I've been working on my list, which is as follows: (photos indicate my intended decision, but not my final decision.)

A book you've been meaning to read:
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
runner up: The Nanny Diaries by Sarah McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

A book published this year:
Savor by Shauna Niequist
runner up: something by Lauren Winner

A book in a genre you don't typically read:
Hiroshima by John Hersey

A book from your childhood:
The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
runner up: The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle or something by Madeleine L'Engle

A book your Mom loves:
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd{check! read it this year}

A book that was originally written in a different language:
Diary of a Country Priest by George Bernanos
runner up: something by Tolstoy

A book "everyone" has read but you:
Dakota by Kathleen Norris
runner up: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, or....
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini or
The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris

A book you chose because of the cover:
Beautiful Ruins {check!}

A book by a favorite author:
Stitches by Ann Lamott {check!}
Me by Brenda Euland
or something by Annie Dillard

A book recommended by someone with great taste:
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley or
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

A book you should have read in high school:
Paradise Lost by John Milton
runner up: On the Road by Jack Kerouac

A book that's currently on the bestseller list:

Help!  Provided I can find the majority of these at library, which ones should I read? Are any of these dark that you know of? I would rather avoid them if so. Let me know in the comments.

Friday, April 17, 2015

7QT~ Bored of Facebook? 7 Reasons I Love Twitter.

I used to never go on Twitter. I had an account, but it was virtually defunct. When I first started to finally use my account, at first I was all, "Am I the last person to tweet in the world?" But then I noticed that a lot of people that I know never go on Twitter ever, either, and I mean not at all never... and I was wondering- what in the world? Is is because I'm from the South and I'm not somewhere like, say, Silicon Valley? (#notbitter). Or is it because "Twitter is the Walmart of Social Media"? No! I  started to wonder how I could remedy that.  For years, I saw my husband  go on Twitter, and actually getting a lot out of it, and I wondered why he used it, and how.  The main reason I avoided it, and I should say, I avoided it *like the plague,* was because I thought I would spend too much time on the site.  The other reason? It seemed so much less personal than Facebook; it seemed more dry and boring, with a confusing number of things going on.

However, I love it now. I think I'm becoming a Twitter person.  It really does kinda make me smile.  Why?  Here are (just) seven reasons to be a part of Twitter and/or appreciate it.


Explore the "Mighty Meaty"

I know, gross. Right?! But it's true. You can grab a whole bunch of content in one fell swoop. There is just more there. And you can do that without wading through pictures of your friends' kids, or silly quizzes, or articles that don't suit your fancy. If you follow the right people, or organizations, you will quickly get in the know (which I feel is so important!) without too much time or effort. It's like a slice of very meaty pizza... and who wouldn't like that? I mean... that is, if you're pregnant, of course, *cough, cough*. You can look up what's trending, such as "#aprilfoolsday" and find out all of the funny things you missed that day. Is there an event you're sad to miss? Check the hashtag to keep in the know.


Find Fun People

Twitter is all about who you follow, of course! I love Anne Bogel (MMD) for her book recommendations and fun Kindle deals. Cristina is all awesomeness for hashtags and availability.  Famous singers? Check. Famous writers? Check. Actors? Check. Comedians? Check. It's fun! But be sure to follow the right people.  Really political or a-political, or really mean people are not welcome on my feed. I don't use words like A-Hole nor do I allow graphic pictures or nudity. Places like  #MTV or people who regularly retweet this type of content? They are right out. Customize... get ideas for good people and orgs to follow, and it will be what you make of it.


Get Quick Results

If you want to see, be seen, converse, get comments, etc. it all happens really fast on Twitter. It is a great place to converse on a quick time span. Honestly, I wish I had more friends and family who actually used Twitter, because I think it would be a (more) fun way to converse without feeling like the spotlight is on you, as such with FB. Spotlight effect is already something I have trouble with, just in general. I'm also a big fan because it doesn't feel as image-driven as instagram. So. Twitter is better. For that, anyway.


Drive Up Your Traffic

Twitter is a good place to get hits, period. Some people post from instagram to Twitter, but if that's your style, that's fun too. Some people use it to retweet and promote or interact with other people. Some people just use it for a few things, such as adding a link to their blog, favoriting a few favorites,  or reading news, and then, done. Two minutes, tops. Again, it's what you make of it. Some people put a lot of time and effort into their Twitter feed, and that pays off. You can definitely tell and it doesn't hurt your stats if you put more time into your feed. Either way is good by me.


Ride the Wave

It's a bit of a learning curve.  In fact, someone should write a post about starting out on Twitter if you are clueless... and I'm sure they have, I just don't know where the best one is. Mashable has a collection of helpful how-to videos from Youtube. Twitter can feel like a black hole, or a pain- again, if you're following those immature weirdos #jk- but it can also feel like a fun ride.  How do you stay balanced?  First, make sure you have a routine. Get on there for a few minutes on the weekdays, and maybe a little bit longer on the weekends. Use Pocket or another app to save articles from Twitter for later. And again, follow people you really, truly like following.


Find a Less Personal Medium

Twitter is less personal than FB and instagram. I like that. You don't feel like you're taking a stroll down the runway ... or taking your kids along with you, for that matter. You're not the paparazzi on the hunt for nice looking Easter outfits. You're in a business casual mindset, and it feels nice. I follow a lot of publications and other online organizations, such as NPR, Loyola Press, and NaNoWriMo.  I like being in the know, and it's a lot faster than listening to the news on TV.


Be More Professional

Don't get sucked in and miss your life... that's my one rule for Twitter, and really, all social media for that matter. I spend some time in the morning, and then I'm pretty much done for the day, unless I do  a quick check-in via my iPhone.  No dawdlin'. It is less addictive than Insta, and Twitter definitely feels more professional to me than some of the other SM channels, but then again.... it's all in how you use them. Again, if you put more time into your feed, I'm not judgin' you, because I know it pays off!

and now, shameless self-promotion time.
To follow me..
To follow Real Housekeeping...
To follow ACWB/ aka Melanie...

So now... Go forth and do Twitter! It's fun.. I promise!

Adding my link to Kelly at This Ain't The Lyceum today.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Why I Don't Like the Word Brat, But I'll Still Tell You to Read a Book That Uses It


a child, especially an annoying, spoiled, or impolite child (usually used in contempt or irritation).

I was able to do some reading on our recent trip to Texas, and I woke up with a headache early in the morning one day, and read this book, pictured, cover-to-cover. It’s short and very readable. In fact, over all, I really liked the book, It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way, by Ginny Seuffert, published by Seton Press. This is the first book by Seton Press that I have read.

In the end, I was very glad I read this book. It helped some friends of mine to get their kids on track about an eating schedule, so that they’re no longer eating out of boredom, or always begging for snacks.  It also gave me clarity about confident, consistent parenting, such as ideas for bedtimes, and wisdom for frugal parenting (especially in their later, teenage years). These and other things were very helpful to hear discussed from a Catholic perspective.

Hearing encouragement about taking kids to Mass was also very helpful and on-par. She discusses ways to keep them in the pew for prayers, even after Mass, and how to get them familiar with the  responses in Mass. However, my one quibble with this section was that she recommended the practice and the concept of parents taking the littles in shifts, particularly for large families going to Mass, so that no one has to take a baby to the cry room. That was a little a lot crazy to me, because I was trying to imagine me and Stephen splitting up every time we went to Mass. Let’s just say… no, me and the cry room haven’t quite broken up yet! ;)

The thing about this book is that it was really good, but to be truthful, it really could have been so much better.  A few things really rubbed me the wrong way. Namely, on two different occasions, she uses the word “brat” to describe unruly children.

For example:

“Out in public, loud bratty children often turn dining out, shopping, or even a trip to the library, church, or park into a major headache for parents and innocent bystanders.”

And then this:

“Think of the whining, crying, complaining back-talking brats that we all see in church, at the grocery store, and on the playground….”

Hmm... ok. Let's see. Am I misguided here?

I was totally cringing when I read that. That's because I don’t like the word "brat."  It sounds nasty to me.  It takes the book for me, from a well-meaning parents’ manual, to a corny, (and a little bit) self-righteous lecture.

Here’s my honest opinion: If you don’t want your kids to be brats, don’t ever call them "brats."  And calling other people’s children “brats” is even worse… so much worse. If they hearing you saying, "well those people's kids were just brats," after encountering someone in public, do you know what you'll have on your hands? Self-righteous kids. A little confidence goes a long way. We don't have to derive our confidence from the practice or bad habit of putting others down.

The word ‘brat,’ in my opinion, is derogatory. Unless it’s used tongue-in-cheek, such as in reference to an “Army Brat,” it’s rude. And it’s completely depressing and discouraging to those who absorb that kind of verbal assault. That kind of language takes time to recover from. It's hurtful.

It you want your kids to grow up to be self-respectful, and beautiful, and caring and mindful and merciful toward other children, the best way- in my mind- is simple! Encourage them. Never call them "brats." Be careful never to teach them to look down on other children. Teach them to respect others and look for the best in others...even if those people are complaining, or self-indulgent, or what have you. That doesn't make them less than you. Teach them by example, or explain explicitly to them that everyone is learning, and sometimes some people have bad days. (And some people have disorders or other conditions- such as dyslexia or ADD- which you may know nothing about, inhibiting their behavior for reasons unknown to strangers in public places). Otherwise, they may be thinking that a) they themselves are brats or that b) other people are brats, in their own minds as well.

Labels are dangerous, because it assumes that once someone “acts like a brat,” they are always like that. That’s simply not true. If you see someone with a spoiled demonstration in public, I urge you to assume the best. Assume they are hungry, the parents are ready for a nap or lunch break, and the children are incredibly tired. Perhaps they are in a bad pattern; one you wouldn’t condone for your own kids. Oh well. Or, worse, perhaps they have a condition or disorder. Live and let live. Don’t judge.  Don’t assume they are "brats." And never, ever say that word out loud… at least not within my earshot. :)

Was this book all bad? No. I’m glad I read it. You probably will be, too! Here’s a picture of the table of contents, so that you can imagine you are taking a peek inside, to see if this would be a good book for you. It is fairly cheap and affordable on Amazon; the Kindle edition is only $4.95.

I appreciated reading a parenting book from a Catholic perspective, since for me those have been infrequent, thus far in my parenting journey. These types of books are few and far between. It was very logical and sane. And definitely it was helpful. But like I said, it was a good book that could have been better.

If you read it, just do me a favor, and read it with your guard up. Otherwise you and your kids might gets some name-calling ideas from it, and that would make you a jerk. Oh, wait I don't like that word, either. I don’t know, maybe I’m just a brat. But just don’t tell me that, or call me that. It would hurt my feelings. If you want to read a much better address (read: kinder) for families with over-indulged children, this post, Whining Whiners and How to Cure Them has a lot of wisdom.

What do you think? Do you ever use the word "brat"? Will you read this book?

Adding my link to ACWB

Monday, April 13, 2015

Weekly Minutiae vol. 18~ Easter Memories and Texas!

So we made it to Texas and back~ if you want to see eight years of Easter Memories in our family, see this post (updated from two years ago).

Here are a few photos from Texas..

We stayed with our dear friends, the Aparicios.

Yeah, so their kids are pretty much the cutest.

Our Godson, Tomas. The cheeks! I die. 


The drive was long, but we broke it up by avoiding the ugly rest stops, for the most part, with longer stops at non-fast food restaurants (Olive Garden) and multiple peanut butter and jelly picnics throughout the duration of our trip. 

I did a lot of reading in the car. WOOT. Major, major reading time. I was able to finish the 749 beast that is Team of Rivals. Yes, I did read the whole stinkin' thing. I helped with driving, but Stephen actually really likes driving, because he listens to lectures while doing so. I had forgotten that when Lincoln died, there was a triple assassination plot. His secretary of state Seward was almost murdered, but in the end he recovered. His Vice President's assassin chickened out at the last minute. Thank you MMD for the rec.

The girls outside our hotel, Hampton Inn.

Madeleine declared the Hampton Inn carpet "the prettiest carpet" she'd ever seen. She really did.
I mean, right? It's like the beach and insanity all rolled into one happy package/design.;)

Fort Worth, TX

Something really cool and amazing from our trip was that the first day we were there, we got to see a real rodeo, Wild West edition, in Fort Worth, TX.  

They did a really fine job. Later that night, we ate at one of the best Tex-Mex restaurants in the area, Joe T. Garcias.

At a real, historical saloon! Can't remember if this was the White Elephant or a different one. But definitely authentic, and pure Texas.

The girls got cowgirl hats that day, as souvenirs from our trip.

On our trip, I read... Team of Rivals, The Kalahari Typing School for Men, Stitches by Anne Lamott, and I picked up a few books while we were there. (More on that coming up in a minute).

Easter baskets! With eggs full of Easter m&m's!

Finding Easter baskets.

We did an Easter egg hunt, Texas style, at the Aparicio's parish. Fun! It was still really cold, so the girls borrowed sweaters from our friends.

Having fun at the Science and History Museum.

Reading on a train car at the Science and History Museum.

Digging for Dinosaur bones at the Science and History Museum

Lunch at In-n-out ... I think it had been since college for me. I felt like I was in Cali. So YUM! When you are 18 weeks pregnant, don't listen to the lady who tells you "one serving of fries is enough for two people," because we were really glad we ordered 4 baskets for 5 people!! Their fries are so good.

A trip to the Dallas/Fort Worth area would not be complete without a visit to the amazing Zoo. So, on Monday, we went to the Zoo, of course! Yes, everything is bigger in Texas, and the Zoo - in my humble opinion- was unparalleled to any Zoo experience I've had (Maybe five other zoos? So, ya know, a relatively average number of zoo experiences. heh.). It just goes on and on!
Sofia enjoyed the zebras and rhinos!

Sofia had been to the zoo before, so she recommended (asked) that we pay a dollar to feed the birds.

What a great idea, Sofia! It was so much fun. They ate almost right out of our hands. Almost. We had sticks with honey and birdseed on them, and the birds would fly right up to us to eat. Our girls about died ... so fun!  A highlight of our trip.

On our last day, we had to go to Denton, Texas for an amazing Used Bookstore experience.
Stephen, Katie, and Bernie, about to cross the street to go to Recycled... one of the coolest bookstores I've ever been to! Huge!

Books... everywhere.

It's inside of an old opera house. Wow, Texas. You pretty much just hit it out of the park (and being a lover of McKay's, I really didn't think that was possible.)

Behold. Mammoth. From our haul, I came away with a Louisa May Alcott biography (Civil War nurse, check!),  an Alcott novel previously unknown to me, and a large stack of little golden books. And, a few others to give as gifts.

We didn't take Anders... He stayed behind, with the Grandparents! But we brought him a Texas hat!
When we came home .... our car was a sticky mess, but we were so refreshed! Thank you, to our dear, sweet friends for letting us come crash your pad. Your hospitality was warm and balmy, like Texas, and sweet and fun, like Easter. So many good conversations were had. All in all, a very successful trip (and Spring Break for Molly).

funny things they say

We had a few funny quotes during the trip...

Frances (on the way down, using her imagination): Have you ever had sassagrass? It's blue and it tastes delicious.... just like melted popsicles.

Molly (on the way back, watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory):  When you try to hang your hat on those, they hold onto it! That was creepy, and silly, and very, very strange.

Frances: (later on) Madeleine... have you ever had sassagrass? It's blue and it tastes delicious.. just like melted ice-cream.

Molly: (in reference to sending Stephen texts like "I love you Daddy" while at work) How did you know it was me? Because I'm such a good speller, and I know how to work this thing?
Stephen: Yeah, and because Mommy doesn't call me Daddy.

Madeleine: (age 2) Mommy, can you clean that up? Anduhs spilled pwetzel goldfish on the floor.

weekly minutiae (min-oo-shuh) updates, funny things they say, photo dumps, "blogging is fun" type deal with all of the fun trivial details that make life fun and interesting. 
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