Friday, July 29, 2016

How to Know When You Are Being a Hypocrite~ A Quick Little Quiz(zzz)

As I was unloading my groceries from the store that morning, a thought popped into my head.

"The creme de la creme of hypocrites is to not eat that, not say that, not do that, not read that."

I don't know why it came to my head that way on a Monday morning! ;) I don't know why it had anything to do with unloading groceries from Walmart. ;) ;) ;)

But I think it is something worth contemplating.


Why do hypocrites thrive off of saying, "This, not that" ?

Because then, we don't have to live by the Living Word of God.

Then, we don't have to live by the Spirit.

And then, finally, we don't have to love.

Jesus told us exactly what hypocrisy is in His Word.

Matthew 23:1-12

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.
“Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries[a]wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.

I'm not trying to throw anyone under the bus here. But if there's someone I have problem with it is this blog on Patheos, called "The Friendly Atheist." Here's the problem in this article, "The Hypocrisy of 'Progressive Catholics' written by Lauren Nelson. The problem is that when we wrap ourselves in the "There is something wrong with the Church, therefore, I won't join in on that hypocrisy," as she explicitly says she believes when quoting here:
"By staying Catholic I feel liberals hypocritically give tacit approval to behaviour and attitudes they find offensive."
 In this philosophy, touted by Lauren Nelson, we are apparently less hypocritical if we don't try to abide by what the Church teaches.
I will be completely honest. I think Patheos should take articles like this down.  This does not fall into any credible belief system.

Is she an atheist?  Apparently so. She blogs under the title, "The Friendly Atheist" on Patheos. But what is her true Belief System?

What is her true "Religion"?   She has to have a belief system, and this system of beliefs is, ultimately, her religiosity, whether she knows it or not.

I think that anyone who puts themselves above the religion of Jesus Christ should stop and take a quick "Am I a Hypocrite" test.

Here are 7 {quick-style} questions:

1. Where do I find my righteousness? (is it in food? Is it eating or not eating a certain thing? Is it my looks, my organization, my peppiness?;)

2. Where is my heart? (Do I love money? Do I think I am above the love of money?)

3. Am I Happy? (Do I honk and pass people on the interstate? Do I have inner calm and peace, or inner anger and bitterness?)

4. What Am I Craving? (Am I lonely? Do I crave friendship? Do I crave beauty? To what lengths will I go to get what I crave?)

5. Do I Have True Friends? (Can I be vulnerable with others? Am I above others, or alongside them? Do I compete with these people or love these people?)

6. What does Jesus say about all of this? ;)

7. What can we do?  There is nothing we can do (in the face of the violence in our country, the sad politics of our nation, the horrible bullies on TV who boast of wealth and beauty, but do nothing). There is nothing we can do....

...until there is something we can do.

“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

I can't tie this post up in a pretty little bow... But I can respond to this statement: There is nothing we can do... by saying,

There is nothing we can do...

...until there is something we can do.

What does "doing something" look like in the face of this catastrophic mess our country is in? What does "doing something" look like in the face of radical Islam?

Serving God might look like:

~having another baby

~serving your neighbor by bringing him or her a hot meal

~volunteering at a mission or another organization;)

~giving a small tip to someone who is overworked and depressed

~giving away the shirt on your back, to the homeless, to the one in need

~loving the children you have with your whole heart; being present; being faithful.

Serve your neighbor, love your neighbor. This is the best test for avoiding Hypocrisy Stew. Reach out, reach down (if your pockets are deep), and reach in, to find out where God is calling you to use your true gifts, your true talents (if they are not). He has given you these talents, and he longs to bless you and your talents if you will only let him! Do not stay in the stagnant pool of rationalism, which cries to make Reason the goddess of his or her time, talents, money, and ultimately, his or her heart.

Are you happy serving God? If not, then you're (being) a hypocrite.
Joining up with Kelly at 7QT and yesterday, I posted my Monthly Recap

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Monthly Recap vol. 35~ July 2016 & Music Obsession and Some Notes on Finishing Novels 1st

Welcome to my monthly recap, where I dish on books, what we're watching, links, and occasionally my recent musical obsession. Read on...  (Actually only have those 4 categories this time! oops!)


31. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

I do love me some Mindy Kaling. As former writer (and actress) for The Office, she is truly funny and she indeed has a winning smile and personality;)  I watched some of her show The Mindy Project, and I liked her in it most of all. So thus I was interested in her book. As a funny memoir, it did not disappoint. As a self-help book, she seemed a little lost and lonely to me. Also, I would personally give this book credit for being a fantastically fast read. That is owing to her humor and her precocious  style, I'm almost positive.

32. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

This was unexpectedly good!  I enjoyed this book. It provided an absorbing story, however, there were some unnecessary tangents in the storyline that felt cumbersome. The subject matter felt a little bit unflashy and that was almost tiresome. Overall, though, the character is surprisingly likable by the end, so I suppose it was redeeming in that way. If you're interested in Swedish culture and a very angry SOB with a very slightly heartwarming twist in an otherwise sad plot, pick this one up.

34. Still Life

On episode 30 of the Read Aloud Revival podcast, Cindy Rollins represented the why read a murder mystery crowd quite well. I recommend hearing her perspective, as it is one I respect and would emulate. ;) To be honest, Dorothy Sayers was someone I really wanted to like, but I never finished Gaudy Night (though I read hundreds of pages of it).  But that's one of the few books I haven't finished in a long time! ;)

33. Before We Visit the Goddess by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

This novel was really well written, and the pacing was per.fect for Summer.  Her perspective is extremely unique, and although I did not agree with her spiritual journey, I could not help being sucked into her journalistic style, wondering what I could learn from this viewpoint.  The ending was satisfying, and like a delicious meal, you'll enjoy this from start to finish, if you are anything like me in your taste in books. Because I have read too many longish books, I give this 5 stars simply for the perfect pacing.


"Marianne" by Mipso
It has, um, interesting lyrics (I have a couple of top guesses. And I don't think it is super subtle... but! I could be wrong! :0) ;)
If you want to see something really interesting, watch this very short (15 min) film about the band in Japan. And when I say it is worth watching and very awesome, I would not be exaggerating! ;)
But Joseph Terrell... could be the bluegrass (or the next) Sufjan Stephens. no. lie.
And read Wikipedia to find out where they got the title for their band. So interesting.

~Also Listening to...~
This is an excellent podcast about blogging --> The Hopewriters Season 1, ep. 5 Should You Blog?


all of the things we watched this month were actually super family-friendly, for which I was grateful. Looking for a Family Movie/Show selection? Try...

The Flash (the fastest man alive) superhero TV series, available on Netflix

The Great British Baking Show

Cupcake Wars

an excellent film, written by Nick Hornby, about the US immigrants in NYC in the 1950's

Molly recommends Power Rangers Mystic Force

Madeleine recommends Word Party, a Jim Henson show about teaching words (vocabulary) to our kids

Frances recommends loli rock, about the power of music! ;)


The Scientific 7 Minute Workout @ The NY Times (664 comments?! must have struck a chord)
Lately after dinner and clean-up, I've been going for a 20 minute speed-walk, and then I do the 7 minute workout twice in a row. It has really improved my mood immensely! ;)

I've done a little listening of the soundtrack, and ... do it!!!;)

Um... >??!! phew. Glad that's over. :_-( sweating bullets ;)

~Some Notes on Reading (and Finishing) Books and Novels~

Sometimes people ask me, "How do you read so many books?" and especially, "So do you really read all of the books you say you read?"

The answer is, yes.  If I buy a book from anywhere, really, I feel like it is a waste of money if I do not read it from start to finish. If I set out to reread one of my favorite books, I need some accountability, like a book club, to make sure I do indeed finish it!

The only caveat is that I give myself a lot of grace when it comes to one genre in particular.

For novels, start to finish every single time. For classics, Grace.  That's my motto. Grace and lots of stacks of books in every room. Used book sales, Kindle steals, inherited bookshelves full of inherited books. Where to start?  How to finish even one? By doing. Make a list. Check it twice. If I check out a book like Ivanhoe from the library, and I find I have put the same amount of time "getting into it" as it would take for me to read an entire modern-day novel, I will count it as read. I might reread the abridged version to get a better concept. I say might, but that's exactly what I did!

Back in the day, I used to read Spark Notes for really really ridiculously confusing British novels or something, although at this point I feel like that's cheating, so I almost never ever go on there anymore. {knock on wood, I see your fist}.

But you will get some idea just by reading Goodreads.  Amazon has reviews too, but I wouldn't linger long on those.

Best rule of thumb is: read it all the way through. That was my rule of thumb for MiddlemarchKing Lear, and War and Peace.  I read them all the way through. I wrote my SIP (Senior Integration Paper) on King Lear, so I definitely had to read that one all the way through. And that's my rule of thumb with just about every single easy read on my list (which, lately, has been everything).

But what's the takeaway here? Long story short, skim what I would call the "antiquated" classics, if you must, but give them time. Give them time in a different way, of course. Pause over a meaningful section.  Read a touching paragraph out loud. It will do it good to give it fresh oxygen.

If you see a novel on my "Already Read" list, I read it from start to finish. AKA I've read every single book on this year's list cover-to-cover except one. The only exception to that rule in this year so far was Ivanhoe. I spent a lot of time with it and I read the abridged version from start to finish, but that was only after I found the original almost incoherent to my modern ears. But I gave it a fighting chance, and so should you.

Oh... and, I watched the movie.


Classics are like that. Lost in the middle of Dickens? How many hours did you put into it? I give you the grace to put it down, watch the movie, and call it done. Dickens wrote huge, confusing books with millions of characters. Give yourself grace there. Why? Because there are other more readable books that you could be reading. Pick up the classic again later and try to forge ahead.

I do love recommending hot bestsellers and lots of other kinds of books to my IRL friends! It feels good to say: "Here, read this! I read it, it's great," and mean all of that sentence with my whole heart.  By prioritizing I am able to read four books in a month, and I really actually did read all four of those books in a month!!!! I'm an honest person for gracious sakes! ;) The secret, I think, is to read hard stuff and fluff all at the same time. ;) And pick books that you really feel a strong pull to- not the books you feel you *should* read because other people like them!!!! Finally, if you're stuck- I mean, really stuck- put it down with your whole heart, and move on, swiftly!! ;)

More later on why you should read new releases, although I'm not the best person to dish on that subject.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Current Kindle Deals Wednesday vol. 7 ~ Novels ed.

NOVELS!!!! :0)

As many of you know, I love to read, I love Amazon, and I love the Kindle app (and my Kindle Paperwhite!). I also have reading kids, I'm an avid and prolific reader, myself. Thus, it seemed only natural that I would use those passions to help others. And so, I'm excited to announce that every Wednesday, for the foreseeable future, I will share with you a list of 9 handpicked, carefully procured great books, good books worth reading, and everything in between, here.  I will share Kindle deals, as well as a few good deals in the beautiful hard-bound book variety (meaning, those books that you just can't live without, and you would rather not read on a Kindle).  What they have in common is that they are all readily available to you via Amazon. Welcome to vol. 7!!!

I love me a good Catholic novel.  In this list, I will tell you what I have read, if you should buy it, and why.  I hope your Kindle thanks me later!! ;)

Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset

Yes, I finally read this entire trilogy about two years ago.  Oh, my soul was so happy with the beautiful, shimmering, mysterious, life-changing novel. This comes to you highly, highly recommended! Worth having on your shelf!

The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton .99 on Kindle

I read this book in High School, and have not had a chance to reread it since. However, I remember absolutely loving it, dear. He is charming, witty, and this is a purely fascinating plot, to boot.

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien free with Kindle Unlimited ;)

Ok- I know! This is terrible, I've only ever seen the movies. Which were great! But I hear the novels are *much* better! #needtoremedythatsomedaysoon

The Diary of a Country Priest by Georges Bernanos

This has been on my to-read list for forever. Le sigh. Stephen has read it, and it comes to you highly recommended by him!!!

from the publisher:
In this classic Catholic novel, Bernanos movingly recounts the life of a young French country priest who grows to understand his provincial parish while learning spiritual humility himself. Awarded the Grand Prix for Literature by the Academie Francaise, The Diary of a Country Priest was adapted into an acclaimed film by Robert Bresson.

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

Mwah! I love, love this book! Highly recommend the miniseries, something Stephen and I watched together and both loved. Stephen has read this book, so ask him about it sometime! ;)

In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden

Love this book!  The ending is sort-of a toss-up, though. I have heard it described as dissatisfying, and I would go so far to say it rips your heart from your chest in a not-so-subtle way.

from the publisher:
This extraordinarily sensitive and insightful portrait of religious life centers on Philippa Talbot, a highly successful professional woman who leaves her life among the London elite to join a cloistered Benedictine community. In this gripping narrative of the crises surrounding the ancient Brede abbey, Rumer Godden penetrates to the mysterious, inner heart of a religious community—a place of complexity and conflict, as well as joy and love. 

Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor

This is the quirkiest thing O'Connor ever wrote. I did a paper on this book in college, I think (it may have been High School, I actually can't remember). I did read it cover-to-cover, but I did not find it *nearly* as accessible as her short stories. If you haven't read it, it would be worth reading. But if you are just trying out some O'Connor for the first time, start with her short stories, definitely.

from the publisher:
This tale of redemption, retribution, false prophets, blindness, blindings, and wisdom gives us one of the most riveting characters in American fiction.

The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene

I have not read it, but it comes to you highly recommended by my older brother Evan.
from the publisher:
In a poor, remote section of Southern Mexico, the paramilitary group, the Red Shirts have taken control. God has been outlawed, and the priests have been systematically hunted down and killed. Now, the last priest is on the run. Too human for heroism, too humble for martyrdom, the nameless little worldly “whiskey priest” is nevertheless impelled toward his squalid Calvary as much by his own compassion for humanity as by the efforts of his pursuers.

Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather 2.99 on Kindle

Again, a book I have not read. My friend Heather Wood wrote a post for Carrots for Michaelmas on Willa Cather. Makes me wish I could get into Catheter.  So fun that Heather got to do that guest post!! :) ;)

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Depth of Human Nature in Three Books That I Loved (And One Book I Hated)

Today I'm going to talk about the depths of human nature in three books I loved and one book I hated (or strongly disliked). I am going to use the trope initially used in the MMD podcast. (Click on the link to learn more, if you have no idea what I'm talking about;). In Fiction, sometimes the characters go deeper than the storyline. In the three books I loved, the characters did just that. In the one I disliked, the main character is in the midst of a plot that gets more complicated as time and pages go on, but the character remains unchanged and uninteresting. How do we seek out and find really great books? I'm on a hunt for clues.

In the novella or short story, The Death of Ivan Illych, the main character faces a long, slow death after it is clear he has lived an immoral life wrought with adultery and jealousy.  Like other works by Tolstoy, the plot and characters stay in the spotlight of our imagination and it is made even more beautiful by the winsome philosophy woven throughout. The character faces the moral dilemma: needing to ask for help, by humbling himself to ask his servant to hold his legs up to relieve his pain in the midst of dying. Tolstoy does not mince words, and to be honest this book is a little discouraging. But hang on: his storytelling keeps us hanging on his every word, namely because of deep, interesting characters.

Another book that I love and have reread many times is The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  In it, we meet Colin and Mary who have many things in common. Instead of being a caricature of children- cheesy and "virtuous"- these characters have many flaws and we recognize a shimmer of something in ourselves. Namely, they are believable. Colin and Mary are cousins; they love picture books; they are both bossy and do not like to go outdoors. Their similarities contrast sharply with the boy from the Yorkshire moor, Dickon. He loves animals, and growing things, and can awaken a secret garden using only a spade and a package of seeds. The book comes alive and the reader with it, as we see a spiritual and physical garden reawaken at the hands of these interesting children.

- The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton is a book that I felt did not have a down reaching impact on me or my heart. The characters- namely the main character- does not undergo any serious change, nor does she seem to have any deep friendships. The thrust of the book is the twisting plotline. While echoing (or attempting to echo) Faulkner and referencing Moby Dick, this book isn't a classic.  How do I know? I just think that it is a trending book- with many non-literary reviews on Goodreads and Amazon- that doesn't get under your skin. Whether it be through beauty, deep souls, or gorgeous writing, a classic is a book that leaves us changed. This book just didn't fall into that category.

The final book I want to mention is The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. Here is a book that I think isn't classic, but it should be.   It's a newer book than Tolstoy, but the writing, the plotline, the characters, and the effect on the soul is pure greatness.  The main character is quirky, and flawed (she dislikes her overbearing mother and seeks to offend her occasionally- reminding me of Flannery O'Connor- and what could be better or higher praise that that?).  Her moral dilemma is that she is faced with the idea of death, and she must decide how to overcome her fears and live life to the fullest. I'm happy to report that you will whiz through the last 30 pages to find out if she is successful in this or not.

I try to seek out worthwhile books for myself and my children. Sometimes it is more difficult than it might seem at first sight.  While it isn't wrong to read "good" books sometimes, a book should be more than a good plot. A great book will be more than that. A classic will leave us changed, and that's what I'm going to try to set out to read (or keep reading). ;-) To quote Bret Lott*: "Hearts moving, by the way, the reason any of us ought to write."

*From his book Before We Get Started: A Practical Memoir of the Writer's Life
Linking up with Tuesday Talk! Hurray!

Friday, July 22, 2016

7 Quick Takes ~ Depression Check-In & A Wasp

So, I thought I would join up with Kelly at 7 Quick Takes today, to talk with the fellow Quick Takers and to do a Depression and Anxiety Check-In: Finding Wellness in All Areas of Life. ;) I know it can be hard to be vulnerable about stuff like this, but every once in a while, we have to pull back the curtain.  That is to say, we need to establish the plain fact that no one is "alone" in these struggles~ we all go through periods of grief or loneliness. We all struggle. We need this honesty like we need rain this Summer: desperately. We need to be real.  So, without further ado...

An Intro...

Depression is something I have written about here on my blog for several years. If you come here to my blog and assume that I'm a random early-thirties Mom with a bunch of kids and her act together, you would be wrong. Very Wrong! ;) As many of you know, I have struggled on and off with Depression since college.  I took medication in college and went to counseling. I was able to deal with it pretty well without meds while living in Maryland during the first five years or so of our marriage (I was getting a whole lot more exercise and was really involved at our Church at the time, but who knows exactly why I was struggling LESS). Moving back to Chattanooga was literally like moving back into a fog. A fog of loneliness, laziness, and well, medication. #sosleepy



Annabel poops in the pool...

And if you think this is unrelated, you are not a parent. You are so not a parent!!!!! ;) So the other day, you know, in the midst of all the CRAZY, I took Annabel to the swing while my Mom was watching the other kids! haha:0)  She and I both got extremely sweaty while we were there, (I literally looked at my phone to see the time and it was 1:11-- hottest time of the day!!! Insane!!! ;) so I stripped her down and set her in the baby pool naked when we got back home.  Big mistake!!!!! After about 20 minutes of swimming, she pooped! Ugh! All whilst I was pouring sweat, I had to carry her up to the bath, wash her down, then set her in front of a little baby TV show while I went back outside to disinfect the pool... GROSS!

#parentingishard #parentingisexhaustingwork


My book...

Enter my first e-book, where I discuss ways of dealing with Depression!!! ;)  I mean because, let's be honest.  Parenting is hard. Parenting is exhausting work. And parenting can leave us depleted in all ways, and in all the wrong ways, more specifically. It isn't sexy most of the time. It can be sad almost, that we are so harried and hampered as Moms, and often times there is nothing and no one to turn to, when motherhood should be fun and fulfilling!!

We have to feel like we have a fighting chance, rather than that we are on the brink of... exhaustion? Failure? Hopelessness?  I feel like this e-book really explores what it means to have a life outside of our kids, and that's why I wrote it~ for you! ;) So if you are struggling with no "me-time" or not enough, or if you want to explore some new personal avenues or ventures, but feel too tired or overwhelmed, this e-book would be an excellent place to start. Honestly, the reason there aren't more articles about Mental Wellness on my blog is because, well.... I put all of my deep thoughts and silly thoughts and everything in between IN THAT BOOK! Ha!


Other articles on this subject...

Also- if you're not in the mood to purchase that e-book,  for a quick "encouragement fix,  in case you missed it, I wrote a short guest article about Natural Cures for Mental and Physical Wellness, all about remedies for Anxiety and Depression.  That article, which was originally just for Real Housekeeping, is just about what you can do- in really practical ways- to keep yourself afloat on those really hard days ;)  I also wrote more about that in my article My Road to Accepting Medication (read that one if you are really struggling with Depression and don't know what to do).


How I've been doing lately...

Sadly, even though I had been going to counseling for several years since moving back to Chattanooga, my awesome, amazing counselor moved back to her hometown of Birmingham about 6 months ago!  Almost immediately, I started noticing problems with my mood without going to see her and talk to her about all the things.  (Highly recommend counseling to anyone and everyone! ;)  My husband called me out after failing to set up counseling with anyone. It had been about 6 months, and my Anxiety and Depression started acting up again around the beginning of the Summer.. Thankfully, I found a new counselor who is equally as awesome, and I feel will be in some ways better for me. And she's a Christian! ;) Thank you GOD! I'm still taking same meds, same dose as I have been on since Anders was a baby and went on it for Post-Partum Depression. (And #allthesleeplessnights).


My new book...

And even though I deeply hate and despise self-promotion, you might want to check out my new e-book, as it deals with the everyday routine and schedule we keep our kids on. That consistency in my life has really helped me deal with Anxiety and Depression.  You can read more about that here. Again, the reason I have not put tons and tons on my blog about this topic is that I have consolidated all of that information into my e-books. :0)

Believe me, I am not just simply here to sell you something. I'm not here to say, "Hey! I struggle too. Let's have a party!;)" I'm here to help!!! ;) But did I mention that my new e-book is only 1.99? Head here to learn more. And my e-book on Depression, if that interests you, is only 2.99! Less than a cup of coffee ~  and full of inspiration for you!


What it feels like to be stung by a wasp:

Finally, I just wanted to share this little clip of me describing a wasp sting, because I don't know... it just seemed to lighten the mood. Let's see if I can tie this in better... it's painful like Depression? You will need the support of your family, as you do when you're struggling with mental illness/mental health issues/Depression/Anxiety. ;)  It happened on the Fourth of July, and frankly, it will forever color my memory of this year's Independence Day as truly painful. hehe haha & all that jazz.

Thanks everyone for reading-- and considering purchasing my e-books!! I appreciate it!

Have any thoughts to share on this subject? How do *you* find wellness in all areas?

Thanks, {Stay cool and Live Connected},


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Current Kindle Deals Wednesday vol. 6 ~ Kids' Edition!

Welcome to vol. 6 of Current Kindle Deals, Kids Edition!!! Yay! So exciting to talk kids' books with you today.... fellow Moms, fellow Catholics, fellow bloggers, fellow people of faith... let's talk! :0)

Here is a quick list of books for kids., that I personally recommend highly!;) Quick- check! Do you have these on your shelf?

Catholic Book of Bible Stories by Laurie Lazaro Knowlton and Doris Ettlinger

Personally, the best book to have when you have kids is a book you can read after dinner every night as "Devotions."

Adventures in Assisi: On the Path with St. Francis

A classic story about a classic saint!

Lucia: St. of Light by Katherine Bolder Hyde

This is one that we actually own, and we read it every year at Christmas! ;)

Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland  by Tomie De Paola

Great one to own.

The Secret of the Shamrock by Lisa Hendey

from the new Chime Travelers series- so fun! ;)

My Big Book of Catholic Bible Stories

We own this, and it is very good!

The Mass for Children by Lovasik

Our lady of Fatima art print
(Patron Saint of Peace)

I know there is so much more out there- goodness, I didn't even get to nine! To be honest, the library is probably your best friend when it comes to picture books. Amazon and Kindle are better for when the books are less picture-friendly. Friends, leave me comments about great Catholic books for kids, if you will! ;)

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!

baby Frances! :0)

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

What I Would Say to the Hesitant Blogger

"Life is like a box of chocolates," Forrest Gump once said. "You never know what you're gonna get."

Lately, I've seen what seems like everywhere on social media, it seems to me that people are bashing the Blog and the good of Blogging, again. ;)  It goes through seasons, but a mighty few podcasts and former bloggers have once again doubted the good of Mommy Blogging.

Honestly, it makes me sad to see so many people shying away from regular posting and blogging. Jenna Blythe Christy Misssssssss you!!! Fortunately we have Grace and Ana and Carolyn's latest to keep our feed readers full!  I understand the sometimes necessary "radio silence," but does this mean we have lost our identity as Mommy Bloggers? Are we unsure of what content is "good stuff" and so we are turning into robots-of-random? Have we lost our soul?!

It does make me sad to see this reticence, however, I've done it during certain seasons of my life/blogging life. I get that sometimes you need a break or a chance to slow down... sometimes waaaaaaay down. ;) But I feel like even though I've had periods of silence, I'm finally at a more comfortable place with blogging, and steady pace in blogging for myself, and I like being where I am! I'll tell you why a) I think bloggers should keep blogging and b) why I feel more comfortable in my own blogging skin. :0)

We need a Blogging Renaissance! Keep it alive, keep the good ones going!

So without further ado, five reasons the blog ain't dead!

1. First off, Don't Stop. I want to know what you've got to say. Say it girl!

I hear from many of my colleagues that they have "so many posts in drafts that I just can't seem to click Publish on!" If you can barely publish a post per week, then that sounds like good old fashioned fear to me.  Honestly, I don't want your blog to be Perfect Perfection like Sally-Jean-Jo-Bob. I just want you to be you! Not her! I'm wondering about you, girlfriend! Don't be too proud to shake down and post something on the ol' blog once in a while! We miss you(r posts) while you're gone! ;)

2. Second, don't do it for money. But like Social Media, Blogging is a tool.

What's the difference between posting a long "thought" and picture on Instagram vs. just blogging? (Oh no, here she goes...) #notmuch What is there to fear in blogging that isn't to fear on instagram? Unless you have a private setting on instagram (or want to set your blog to private... been there, done that, not worth it). Do you only post the back of your kids' heads on your blog, but take pictures of them on instagram anyway? Honestly that is hypocritical.

e.g.  I have a friend who has a skincare business, and she meets people through Social Media. Said people have come to her house to purchase products from her.

Lesson: The internet is a tool. It is something we can definitely use for good. (There is so much more I could say about this topic, as my husband works for a company whose work is primarily online, and because blogging is a passion of mien!) Use it to grow!!!

Still posting cute pictures of your kids on Facebook and getting 500 likes? #thatspublicinitsownway
Even though a blog is a risk in the way that you are putting it on the world wide web, the nice thing about blogging is the community that you can find by putting your writing in a special place (like link-ups, or FB groups), that isn't your Facebook wall. Community is superior to money-making!

I have found that almost all of my traffic is coming from like-minded bloggers, friends, and fellow link-up participants. You would be surprised (if you are the type of person who is constantly on the defensive or lives in a fear bubble LOL;), but my traffic is almost 100% what I would consider "safe traffic." If I had a problem with spam or scary commenters, I would consider how to take further action and go from there. You should not have to deal with that, and I think the years that have passed since blogging came into its own alongside other social media platforms and e-zines, and the time passed has made it a tad bit safer, one hopes!! And that's how really it seems to me based on my stats. A private blog has no place on this earth. .......    there, I said it! :0)  (Just take a break!)

Rocking it like a rockstar on Twitter? Well damn, good for you. It feels good to use social media in a more professional way than Facebook. I mean admit it- it does! Doesn't it?! #itdoesfeelgood
Keep going Twitter rockstars. I follow you for a reason- it's because you definitely inspire me! ;)

3. Third, Blogging doesn't have to be awkward or weird.

So you're self-publishing. You're not a newspaper or a magazine. You aren't turning over a single.dime. How dare you use the internet to spread ideas, thoughts, love and good cheer (and the occasional cutie picture of your kiddo)? I think the real problem and the root of all of this fear of blogging is that we are not regularly posting. From my own experience, I would assert that if you get into a routine for yourself, you will feel ten times more "normal" about it and less worried, like, "I'm all OUT THERE for everyone in the world to see! AAAAAHHHHH!!!!!"  If you say to yourself "Two times a week. Monday and Thursday. 9am" You will have a HUGE sense of relief. You will feel peace. You will not feel embarrassed. You will rock it, and bonus? You'll grow. ;) There is also a safe and sensible way to be vulnerable online without TMI.  Imitate your favorite professional online platforms if you are in any way insecure, and just go from there.

4. Fourth, after you find your "niche," find your professional socks and wear them.

Seriously. Are you weirded out because you once bared your soul, got no response, and then shuddered in your bathroom for an hour?  Here are three things you can do about that right now.

You can either:

a) Go back and delete said post and hope no one ever clicks on it or tries to respond to it ever again  (LOL) and Carry on, Blogger-- we love you! We really do! And we miss you when you're gone!


b) Start over with a purpose in mind. Get a blog makeover and improve your About page! ;) Tell people you are a Mommy blogger and then rock that identity! Ya know we already sorta know you from social media anyway. Sooooooo.... why are you being aloof, or distant, or maybe even and/or scared?  Make the internet great again! No shame. No pressure. 


c) Just believe in yourself, because you probably aren't doing *anything* wrong or abnormal. ;) And if there is something about your own personal style that you dislike (and there's probably nothing to worry about), change that from here on out. Don't sweat the past, but make it better in the future.

5. And finally, last but certainly NOT LEAST: compliments are never, ever the measure of your worth. 

I admit it. There are people out there who SERIOUSLY are MAGNETS for praise. Anything and everything they do gets 500 gold stars and 1,000 compliments. It can make the rest of us feel insecure. Or envious. Or just a wee bit jealous. Compliments can be the rot and nausea of blogging. Really. And bonus: guess what? I'm guilty of plastering those people with gold stars and compliments, too. I get it! If someone is beautiful, she stands out.

BUT-- and this is a big, hairy butt-

That doesn't mean that you aren't just as worthwhile and meaningful to me- and us- because you aren't like J Lo or something. We all know rockstars and we all cheer them on, I think. But you are deeply and dearly loved, anyhoo. Don't compare yourself to J Lo or Sheila or Suzie down the block. Seriously. Don't. I mean, seriously! What if Natalie Portman and Mindy Kaling and B.J. Novak and Tina Fey were all having a cry-fest cause they weren't Tom Hanks? That would just be sooooo weird. 

Be yourself. You are loved. Keep writing, keep rocking it, Mommy Blogger style. And if that's your thing, don't worry all day about the compliments you didn't get. If you are touching/inspiring even two or three other mamas, you are making a difference. Believe it! And keep going, because we want you to. You'll see. Trust me!

You do not have to be a box of chocolates ;)
The world will thank you.

Now: I really want to hear from you guys on this topic.
Thoughts on blogging?
Thoughts on the internet in general?
Hit me with your thoughts and ideas in the comments. ;)

Linking up with Tuesday Talk

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Current Kindle Deals Wednesday vol. 5

Welcome to vol. 5 of Current Kindle Deals Wednesday!

As many of you know, I love to read, I love Amazon, and I love the Kindle app (and my Kindle Paperwhite!). I also have reading kids, I'm an avid and prolific reader, myself. Thus, it seemed only natural that I would use those passions to help others. And so, I'm excited to announce that every Wednesday, for the foreseeable future, I will share with you a list of 9 handpicked, carefully procured great books, good books worth reading, and everything in between, here.  I will share Kindle deals, as well as a few good deals in the beautiful hard-bound book variety (meaning, those books that you just can't live without, and you would rather not read on a Kindle).  What they have in common is that they are all readily available to you via Amazon.

It's Wednesday, so that means: let's see what we can add to our Kindle Library collection!!! ;)

Sacred Scripture: A Catholic Study of God's Word by Daniel Smith-Christopher and Rev. J. Patrick

from the publisher:
Sacred Scripture: A Catholic Study of God's Word presents the Bible to students as a living source of God's Revelation to us. It gathers the two covenants of Scripture and the seventy-two books of the Bible under the umbrella of Church teaching, which holds that in Sacred Scripture, "God speaks only one single Word, his one Utterance in whom he expresses himself completely" (CCC, 102).

The Sinner's Guide to Natural Family Planning by Simcha Fisher only 4.99 (50% off!) on Kindle

I've read this, and I think when it's 50% off you should take advantage of it. Also, one of the best things I've read on this subject is This Post~ No H8, Educate from the amazing Svellerella (Carolyn Svellinger). You will laugh, you might cry, and you will definitely leave enlightened. ;)

Rome Sweet Home by Scott & Kimberly Hahn ~ only 9.04 on Kindle

I finally buckled down and read this a few months ago. I can't believe I waited 5 years after becoming Catholic to read this truly amazing memoir, from someone who has been called "Martin Luther in reverse." I'm sure we won't see his impact until many years to come! ;)

Summa Theologica by St. Thomas Aquinas .99 on Kindle

I've actually never read this. Have you? Some? Some Summa? ;)

from the publisher:

It was intended as a manual for beginners as a compilation of all of the main theological teachings of the time. It summarizes the reasoning of all points of Christian theology, which before the Protestant Reformation subsisted solely in the Roman Catholic Church.

The Rule of St. Benedict by St. Benedict, .99 on Kindle here

I did, in fact, read this in a book club. I found it a bit antiquated, but it was chock full of food for thought and I thought made good fodder for discussion. Still interesting, and if you're wondering about the origins and "rules" for monasteries, this is absolutely the perfect place to start!

Everyday Simplicity: A Practical Guide to Spiritual Growth by Robert J. Wicks

I stumbled upon this at our first parish's library when we were still in Annapolis, MD.  I fell in love with this book, and I highly recommend having a copy on your shelf.  I would describe it as an extremely well-written Nouwen-esque, inspire-this-life, almost self-help book but in a more spiritual direction.

from the publisher:

Wicks describes a spiritual life readily accessible to everyone. It requires opening our eyes, appreciating our lives as they are now, and developing a true sense of ourselves in the image and likeness of God. Wicks provides a clear explanation of how to develop this deeply-anchored inner life through his "little rule of prayer"--a set of practices that helps us broaden and deepen our spirituality.

A Pale But.... Splendid Morning by Jean Marie Langevin

This makes for an excellent Catholic devotional. Again, from our church library, but it would be good to own I think! ;)

Rome For the Adventurous Edward Alan Kurtz~ only 2.99 on Kindle, AKA Why Not Read?!

from the publisher:
In "Rome: A Monumental Adventure" we took a walking tour of the sights located within walking distance of the center of Rome. If you only have a few days to visit or if this is your first time visiting Rome, I recommend reading "Rome: A Monumental Adventure" first. It includes the highlights of Rome that you must see. But, like any of the great cities of the world, there are so many more things to see and to do in this fascinating city if you have the time. 

The Confessions of St. Augustine ~ Free on Kindle, Annotated edition available here for 4.49

from the publisher:
Writing in the last years of the fourth century a.d., Saint Augustine of Hippo created what is at once the first true autobiography in Western literature and among the most sophisticated yet accessible theological arguments in the history of Christianity.

Question: I'm doing a round-up of kids' books for next week (vol. 6). Does anyone have any recommendations?

Happy Reading, friends! ;)

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Babies Are Good For Marriage #ilovebabies

Over our recent vacation, I was sitting in the dark, nursing. Stephen and I had just finished watching a  movie (which was interrupted about 1,000 times, by children, children children, but what can you do, besides love, cuddle, correct, and finally, put them to bed- all while you watch something worthwhile as a couple?). I was still sniffling from the ending music and credits, which surprisingly brought forth a waterfall.

I was reflecting on the movie and the events of that day, and as I held our fifth child and cradled her in my arms, my thoughts eventually settled on this thesis: Babies are good for marriage.

Why? What happened amidst the cuddling, pottying, wiping, tucking in, rocking, watching, and finally, lights out, that caused me to land there?

Well, something humbling, and some would say embarrassing, happened. But, when you're used to being singled out daily for having five kids, you don't get embarrassed - or dare I say it- Humbled, as often as you once did. (You might become miffed when you're not God's gift... #somepeoplegetallthecompliments #goodgrief) But you know humble isn't such a bad thing. Now is it?!

I was swimming in the pool. Stephen had taken two of our kids to see Finding Dory, and I had taken the other three to the swimming pool right before Annabel's nap. I had looked for her baby bathing suit, but in the heat of the moment, I couldn't find it. "Oh well," I thought.... "Another day."

So, we lazily strolled to the swimming pool, and upon entering I saw a large sign: "No babies allowed." I'm pretty sure that's what it said: it may have actually been phrased a bit differently. Something like, "Only Potty-trained children allowed in THIS pool."

It was a scorcher. I was pouring sweat. I watched the littles swim, and kept an eye on the baby.

Wouldn't you know it, a couple of minutes later, I was being singled out for *not* putting my baby into the pool. Two very overweight women came up to me and said, "Oh dear, isn't she so hot?" And "It is such a hot day, wouldn't that baby like a swim?!"

Then, as you do, I took the baby out of her stroller and started dipping her toes in the water.

A slightly overweight woman wearing a Business shirt came over to me, almost immediately, with her teenage-boy-trainee to boot. She singled me out and loudly admonished me. She did not even bother to be kind or use nice manners. She got mad, she asked me to take the baby out. Eventually, she let me know that there was a baby pool, where she would like for me to reside, but she had to huff and puff at me for a while first!!!

Essentially, the exchange went like this:
"Ma'am, we do not allow babies in this pool. They are absolutely forbidden to swim or get into this pool.  We just had a floater the other day, and had to empty out the entire pool to get it cleaned up."
I said, "Well, that's awful ma'am. But can't you just let them dip their toes in? She's hot just like you and me!" (As I mentioned, she wasn't even wearing a bathing suit, but I had a swim diaper in tow.)

{chew me out here}

"Go try the baby pool over THERE." {Now: does this strike anyone else as slightly um, HYPOCRITICAL? There were *FOUR* pools in this little community of condos and beach houses. Only *one* of the pools did not allow babies.}

Walks away, acting very chilly toward me.

Me: (in the heat of the moment, heart racing)
-Shuts down internet-free Kindle Paperwhite*- given to me by Stephen for my last birthday.
-Slings ROCK STAR towel over stroller to block the glaring heat from my baby, who was now beginning to sweat.
-Jumps in pool to cool off, and....
-Begs Molly and Madeleine to get out of said wonderful pool.
-Throws swim diaper on a bush, in direction of lady.
-Leaves with kids crying in tow, because they wanted to keep swimming.

As we are walking away, Molly asked me, "Mommy, why did we have to leave so soon?"
"I don't know, Molly," I said.
She kept pestering me with questions all the way back to our house.
I said,  as I cuddled poor Annabel back at our beach house: "Molly, sometimes things don't work out the way we'd planned.  We have to get better at dealing with disappointment. But the truth is, we had to leave because babies aren't welcome there."

And that said, as we walked to another pool on the premises that -strangely- did allow babies, I realized deep down in my spirit that it was the God-honest truth.  Babies are discriminated against here.

As I looked around our resort, day after day I saw families come out of the bungalows. All of them proudly toting their Boy and their Girl.

"Oh man," I thought. "The culture here is oozing Small Families."

That night, we watched the movie Brooklyn, and I'm not a cryer, but I sobbed through the end of this movie. It was so sweet and touching, and it was nearly a perfect screenplay (written by Nick Hornby).  In addition to highly recommending that you go watch this movie, I will warn you : no, it's not about having 5 million babies... but it will make you think about the brevity of life, and how quickly kids grow up. Oh, and, it does also happen to depict a very large Italian-Catholic family of something like seven boys. ;)

And after the Incident of the day, and the movie that night, I just could not stop thinking, "Babies are good for marriage." I just kept repeating that in my head over and over. Why?

Because Babies are good for humanity.

I've learned from my youngest that she isn't the baby I was expecting, exactly, but she was the baby I needed. She has brought us together in ways previously unimaginable. She brings out a love in us that was not there before.

She isn't convenient. She pooped in the bath and threw up out of nowhere the other day.

What are you gonna do.

(Put a swim diaper on her maybe?!?!)

Putting her needs before us each day, each night of her short 10 months (so far) on this earth has been beautiful, humbling, challenging, and deeply entertaining. She has pushed both me and Stephen outside our comfort zones.  She has made us put aside our own agendas, our own needs, our own perfect world, our own ideas. She has given us sleepless nights and harried days. She has stretched our budgets and our patience, even more so. But most of all, she has stretched our hearts.

My heart is bigger -- MUCH bigger-- because Annabel is in this world.

She has brought us together in ways previously unimaginable. She has made us laugh together and cry (me) and marvel (him) together. She has made us smile countless times. I promise you: if your marriage is on the rocks, a baby will do it wonders of good.
And guess what?

That's a good thing.



Now I know that God allowed this encounter between myself and the woman manning that pool. I know He goes behind and before. Every conversation like this has a purpose if we are seeking God's will and we trust Him.  I honestly think although it doesn't happen all the time, sometimes? I think that my baby- and me- we were discriminated against for a reason.

Why? Well, I think it's because Babies are good for marriage.

* I try to read at least 4 books/month
Linking up with Tuesday Talk

Friday, July 8, 2016

7 Quick Takes~ Our Vacation to Beaufort, SC

We had a fabulous vacation this year, and like I do, I wanted ya'll to know all about it. If you do make it all the way through my recap, I will reward you with a great surprise: My voice! (just keep scrolling;)

First-- just so you know, there are two Beauforts. The one in North Carolina, which is pronounced "Bo-Fort," And the one is South Carolina, which is where my family went when I was little, and this precious town is pronounced Bew-fert.  I've never been to Beaufort, NC just FYI but have cousins who go there and informed me of the differing pronunciation!

Just let that sink in. I know... it's kinda weird. But not that weird once you get used to it. Just say it five (or six?) times fast. Bew-fertx6. lol Got it?


The road to Beaufort (did you say it right?) ;)


We decided to stay near Beaufort, on Harbor Island. It's right next to Hunting Island, across the bridge from St. Helena Island, and just North of Fripp Island (where I went once as a child). Did I mention this is a beautiful area?! So fun to explore.

I was just looking over our pictures from last year, and I still can't believe that we took the 3 girls *only* and left Anders with the Grands. I was pregnant with Annabel at the time, and now I just think: MY How things change in the blink of an eye. Last year we were toting and caring for 3 potty-trained girls, all through Disney, this year, we are traveling with *FIVE* all of 'em potty-trained except for Annabel, now. But take heart: IT FLIES.  And going to the beach is much easier than taking a large crew to Disney World. The next time we go to Disney, we might still leave a few behind. Mwahaha. But really~ I mean why not. The toddlers do not know the difference. That should never be a reason to stop you from vacationing (Point number 567 for and in favor of having lots of children).

Add to that: it's just fun!

Beach time: catching the waves.

wish you were here! :0)
Don't mind him, that's just my *hot* husband

St. Peter's Historic Catholic Church

We visited the gorgeous St. Peter's Catholic Church while in Beaufort.
This gorgeous statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe was part of the inner sanctuary decor!

sigh... such a beautiful church!

They also had this statue of St. Michael the Archangel (for the win! :)

We also happened to go on the Feast of St. Peter, so.... picnic!


Isn't it amazing when you think, "Well, I think we should go to Mass, so I guess we'll go..." And you look it up on the internet, and you crash their pad while on your vacay, and Behold! Ok they're having a picnic, so I guess we'll stay for that too?! So you are fed an outstanding feast for St. Peter, and walk away well fed and amazed at God's goodness and provision?!

That's kinda what that was like! ;)
Annabel thankfully napped through the picnic! #otherwiseiwouldhavelostmymind #allthecupcakes

Right before you get to the end of Harbor Island (when Fripp Island comes into view), there's a lovely Nature Center with picnic tables on your left.

The kids love it!

We also went to the Beach! Hunting Island State Park for the win, folks! It is untouched beautifulness.


The next day, we went to the Beach and the pool, just enjoyed the outdoors and God's amazing, stunning creation.
playing in the sand

hermit crab

"baby" hermit crab

sand dollar, found by Madeleine

We also found a crab in a tide pool~ thankfully he was dead, so the kids got to study him! He had a bunch of tiny hermit crabs climbing on his right claw. 

Beautiful view of the beach and a seagull

Playing in the sand, and looking for tide pool treasures

Relaxing with book (s) in hand!!! ;)


Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park

Love the view and those Palm Trees... oh my!

On Wednesday, we went downtown to shop for souvenirs, play on the playground, and restock on groceries.  Stephen took Frances and Anders to see Finding Dory (the matinee).



On Thursday,  we did some more swimming, and then we split up again. Stephen stayed back with the kiddos, and I took Madeleine and Molly to Finding Dory.


Sand dollars and a hermit crab shell from our last day on the Beach
Now... would you like to hear me (as in, hear my real voice) describe taking apart this hermit crab? (getting the hermit crab out of the shell). If so, click here: (warning: disgusting, but thoroughly riveting)

Stephen gives me the thumbs up ! ;)

And on Friday, we drove home! (And on our trip, I came 30 pages from finishing my book The Kitchen House #thankyouatlantatraffic #i'mdonenow)
One more voice track. My description of the book The Kitchen House. Listen to it right here: (Warning: you can hear Annabel chattering in the background).
(warning: spoilers abound! ;)

Bye Bye Beaufort!
~siiiigh~ We will miss you!
Until next time, then.

Linking up with Kelly