Friday, September 30, 2016

Struggles With Children (7QT)

Children are hard. Children can be difficult to deal with. Some days, I feel like I am a big, fat Mom failure and I am doing. everything. wrong.

It can feel humiliating, discouraging, and frustrating. Very often, I think that children throw tantrums for one of three very common reasons: Hungry, Tired, or Teething. Usually, it isn't their fault that they feel terrible, and they are expressing common feelings. The way we deal with it as parents is the key. Staying patient (and remembering that they're not doing this on purpose or "at us" or to make us mad!!) is so important.  But I think we can also look to some other reasons for bad behavior, and I call this "spiritual training."

As a Catholic, I know Mass and the sacraments are of utmost importance. Hail Mary's have to help, too. But as a convert, I still struggle to know exactly where all of the entry points for my faith are, and where they intersect into life. (If you have any ideas, you can always leave them in the comments for me;)

Here are 7 reasons I struggle with children/ children can be hard:

1. Children do not comprehend their wrongdoing.

Without the light of relationship, we walk around like blind people- and we are "blind leading the blind." As soon as we have children, light comes shining in. We as parents have to have names for various behaviors and missteps, so that we can "teach and correct in all righteousness." We need to correct issues of self-control, not call it "sugar cravings" or "sugar crashes." We need to correct anger, not dismiss it as "behaviorally misguided." As I go through the drive-thru on my way to Whole Foods, I recognize my own hypocrisy, and the truth that children are sinners, not simply the products of an All-Organic diet done right or done wrong.

2. Children do not apologize.

"Oh, I'm so sorry Mommy... I will never do that again. I am remorseful and repentant." Is this something you hear often? Is it something children are born knowing? NO. It must be taught!  Slowly, patiently, the parent must instill holy humility in their child. They're not born knowing how to patiently bear with others in love! As they grow out of frustrating teething melt-downs, they grow up into thoughtful, smart kids. Toddlers can be thoughtful, too if we are teaching them songs about love, kindness, and sharing. They get these things; we need to know that they are not too young to grasp this - especially as we model it for them.

3. Children do not get accountability.

Naturally, if a child has a struggle (such as anger, blowing up, etc.) they will not willingly seek help. They don't have the self-awareness to recognize that their behavior is something they can take responsibility for. This is something that can be taught. They can learn to "Count to Four," if the parent will discipline the child. They can have hidden away somewhere inside the holy words of the fount of life, rather than curse words and/or rotten song lyrics.

4. Children operate on power struggles.

"I said no," will be answered with "Yes, I want to do this, and I will do it." A power struggle is based on having control.  A child wants to have control over what is around them, but they don't know how. In a good world, you can give them the skills and the "power" to be able to operate in a grown-up world, so that life is not exasperating for them- skills such as wiping up their tray, clearing dishes away from the table, putting dirty laundry in the hamper. Surely if you don't, you will be dealing with even more temper tantrums and control/power issues. Again, as they get older, the stakes for anger are higher, and it isn't just a bucket of grace poured over their poor, tired aching mouths, at it again with the teeth. There are consequences for missteps: lost friendships, disrespect from authority, a bad reputation.

5. Children will try to make you very, very sorry.

Children will do everything in their power to make you jealous, angry, etc. Think I'm making this one up? Does it sound too negative? Imagine with me a hungry, teething, tired toddler. Reason doesn't work. You ask them to take responsibility, and they will run to Daddy, saying, "This is YOUR fault, Mommy! I'm not talking to you anymore!" Now imagine this heightened. I don't know what having teenagers is like, but I'm sure it is *hard.*

6. Children don't change (or don't want to change).

Children live in a constant state of denial. Are you expecting them to just naturally want to talk it out, apologize sweetly, and change themselves? No, because anger is toxic. It makes people poisonous. This does damage to moods, spirits, and souls. To bring wrongdoing to the attention of children: this is your job and it is the slow work of God. Holiness doesn't happen overnight. Does that mean we should give up?

7. Children don't care.

Ultimately, this is how children act. Their deepest sympathies are with themselves. This may sound very negative. The hope is that they should outgrow these character deficiencies. By caring about them, encouraging them, building them up (not bullying or putting down*), they learn to care for those around them. They learn to control the anger and stop it before it starts, because they have tasted the sweetness of peace, and it is something they want to repeat; it is something they want to return to.

We have a no tolerance rule for a very few things in our house. Childish behavior? We know they'll eventually outgrow it (they'll have to), but don't let them joke around and slough off correction. Like dirty humor, poor behavior has to be something you have zero tolerance for. If you have a problem with it, or if you are in the company of someone who does, get space. Get away. They won't change, they won't apologize. Why stick around getting hurt over and over again?

I posted this survey to my Facebook page:

What do you think? Do you care? ;)
*Sometimes, the adults are still trying to figure this one out;)

Linking up with Kelly @ 7QT

Monday, September 26, 2016

An Open Letter to the Bad Drivers of the World

~Disclaimer before I begin dishing on bad driving: Talking about driving does not come easy to me. I do not consider myself the best driver out there. I also do not enjoy swinging judgments around as if I were the perfect one! So, taking these things into account, I hate to share thoughts about driving, because I don't want to hand out free advice, and then eat my words later. But on the other hand, I feel like I have a bit of experience with this sort of thing. And hey,  the truth is, if you have feelings that strongly contradict what I am about to say, you could always leave me a comment, or write your own post!! :0) And with that, we're off! ;)~

Dear Bad Drivers of the World,

Here is a typical scenario.

I gather all of my kiddos to the car. Some are sleeping. Some are cranky. I get snacks. I get water. I buckle them all in.

I'm in a hurry.  I don't want to be late for school pick-up.  I also hate traffic, and frankly, I hate the  driving, a la people who drive too slowly.

I drive swiftly, but within 5 miles of the speed limit. (This is something I learned when learning how to drive, was ok and not against the law, ahem... correct me if I'm wrong;)

I drive on a two-lane street for about 5 miles to get to the interstate. It isn't a crowded part of town, and there is a long turning lane.  However, the lanes are quite small, and it is easy to feel crowded when passing people on this street. They are not too small to drive at the limit, and you can use the left lane and pass someone if you need to.

As per usual, I was driving about 5 over the limit, (the speed limit is 35), when I am slowed down to about 15 mph by a red pick-up truck.  I slam on my breaks and I cruise behind him. I am so bored at the crawl, I'm tempted to pick up my phone. I opt to turn on the radio, or sometimes I pop in a CD. "Feelin' Groovy" by Simon and Garfunkel comes on.  I get in the passing lane (so important- the passing lane is the left lane, people), when again, I'm faced with someone going about 10 miles under the speed limit--- in the passing lane. (RAR- claws out;) So many things are wrong with this scenario.

I slow way down again, and this time I'm a little frustrated, and I'm starting to get grumpy (mostly because this is a theme of my life and frankly? It gets old and music doesn't help;). I can't get around the first car. And now I'm stuck behind someone driving slow in the passing lane, and I therefore have nowhere to go but very, very slowly.

I'm OK, until I see that the lady is looking at me in her rear-view mirror. She's a fifty-something woman with thick black glasses, and she looks right at me in her mirror. At first I think she's giving me a smile of kindness.  A flicker of hope! Not everyone in the world is evil! But then, when she slows down even more, I realize. It's pity. She's trying to teach me a lesson about how going 40 in a 35 is somehow criminal. HMPH. All of the emotions. All of the bad emotions. They're all there. They're bubbling to the surface. This, my friend, is not wrong.

Meanwhile, I'm about to be late.

That does it. Pulling into the turning lane, I quickly pass her.

Now before you judge me, know that  1) I have no memory whatsoever (or at least no recent memory!) of passing someone in a turning lane. This is not my normal modus operandi.

And 2) Like I said, this is not a busy part of town (at all).  And this is taking place in a mid-sized city, on a very empty street. This is not New York or D.C. There were no cars in the turning lane. There were zero cars coming toward me, who would use the turning lane for anything. This was a long stretch of straight road, where I can see for about a mile ahead of me.

But as these people are probably bored and driving to the store to get milk, I have to get on the interstate and pick up my kids before it's too late.

I'm not speeding. And no, it's not a dire situation. I'm simply trying to drive at a semi-normal pace, just as every parent would like to do when dropping their kids off or picking their kids up from school.

When I get on the interstate, FINALLY, I try to make up for lost time.

Do you know how to quickly pass someone? I learned this by driving in D.C. traffic too many times to be healthy for anyone.

You put on your blinker, and then when there is a space, you pass without hesitation.


In fact, you can nose your way into another lane. If you are an experienced driver using caution, I don't care how busy that interstate is. It is - in fact- much, much safer to put your blinker on, pass without hesitation, and GO!

In Tennessee, I have seen this situation too many times: two lanes turn into one, so as the right lane, in this case, is closed, for about A HALF A MILE, NO ONE is using the right lane BEFORE it is closed. Make sense? No one is driving in the lane that's about to close, because everyone's in a hurry to try to get into that open lane. Did you know that you can take turns merging? (I think it's officially called the "Zipper Merge" and it's done in D.C. traffic all.the.time. ) But no one in Chattanooga does this.

Why? Because *no one knows how to merge.* Insane! Zipper merge, people. Don't cause a traffic jam by not using *an open lane*! Learn how to merge safely and quickly.

In any case, Please for the sake of all that is SANE... even if you don't get the other things I'm saying, people stop driving so slowly.

It isn't safe.

It isn't nice.

And if someone passes you, that's because you're driving too slowly. And yes, it is a form of DEFENSIVE DRIVING. (Which I had to take when I was 16 after getting pulled over by a cop- oops).

Don't try to "get even" with faster drivers by flying around them and speeding off into the sunset! Drives me crazy; happens all the time. People get offended when others drive the speed limit. (?!) Also, don't get in front of that person and purposefully drive slow (and not bother to get out of the way), to teach them a lesson. BAD. DRIVING.

Someone tries to "get me back" and fly around me? Or slow way down so that I can't get off on the exit I need?  Road. Rage.* On really, really bad days, I do get angry. I try not to. I try to pray, I don't try to win. But when people are this horrific at driving, and when road rage seems to be a common issue, in (certain areas of) our city, it can cause me great pains. :-O

Most of the time, I just wave and smile, or give them the peace sign. I'm serious. I do not- I repeat, I  do not and will never flip anyone off- I'm sorry. ;) The peace sign in a rearview mirror works wonders for clearing the air of anger or panic. Try it sometime! :0)

If you are a nice driver, GOD BLESS YOU. I think we can ALL agree that we should be awake and alert when driving. We should not drive drunk or distracted. But here's the rub:   If you aren't a nice driver, I have a quick question for you: I don't care how morally upright you are, how can you expect people to be nice in return?!

If you see me on the road, and you give me a look of pity out of your rearview mirror, here is a fair warning: I will put my blinker on, I will stick my nose out, and within the speed limit of course (always), I will pass you. At some point. ;)

~Last Disclaimer: this does not apply to bad weather, medical emergencies, or other wayward situations;) Also, even though I have had tickets and wrecks in my teens and early twenties, ever since living in D.C., I have never gotten a speeding ticket, I have never gotten into a wreck, and I am a much more careful driver, ironically enough.~

1. Drive the speed limit at least
2. Pass in the left lane
3. Don't drive slowly in the passing lane
4. Don't hesitate when changing lanes
5. Don't try to get even with- or teach a lesson to- faster drivers (Peace sign ;)
6. Zip.per.merge. (If this means nothing to you, see the above link).

Ok. I'm done ranting. Once again, if you are a good, kind, patient driver who assumes the best of others, you get a sticker. If you drive without road rage, or without causing road rage to others, may God shine down his light on you, may you be blessed abundantly with rays of hope right this minute, and may you speed off happily into the sunset. And to everyone else, take a hint.



*M.A.R.R. stands for "Moms against Road Rage" and I'm starting it. Right now.
linking up with Tuesday Talk

Friday, September 23, 2016

Samson's Ambivalent Character And What It Can Teach Us About Marriage (7QT)

Have you read the story of Samson and Delilah recently? If you have, did you know that he once caught 300 foxes, tied them together in pairs, and set their tails on fire?

I was recently reading this story to my children, and as I read it, it struck me how ambivalent Samson was. He seemed to be good, in some ways, but he also had a lot of bad things going for him.

How is he ambivalent? I'll give you seven reasons.

1. His Strength was Good
Samson was stronger than an ox. He tore apart a young lion as easily as he might have torn apart a young goat, as it says in the book of Judges. If anyone knows anything about Samson, they know for sure that he was strong.

2. He was a Part of God's Chosen People, which was Good
Samson was Jewish, from the tribe of Dan.  He was to be a Nazirite, with no razor ever touching his head as a sign that he was dedicated to God, to lead the Israelites as Judge and Leader.

3. He was sexually immoral-- which was really Bad. He visits a prostitute, and although married to a Philistine woman, he falls in love with Delilah.

4. He caused a lot of ruckus, which was Bad- he sets the tails of 300 foxes on fire, he challenges Delilah by not telling her the real source of his strength, and he repeatedly seeks revenge on his enemies.

5. He ended up killing himself along with the Philistines and that's the end for him, which was Bad:

 Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.

6. Sadly, Samson had strength, but it was in his hair, which was Bad.  He was a major, major hypocrite, as we can see from his actions- revenge, infidelity.  He wasn't a fit leader or judge. When his hair was long, he was unfettered. He was awesome. He was perfect. He was everything you'd want in a man... right?

7. He followed God's leading when it came to his wife, which was Good (I guess), but she was a Philistine, which was Bad (according to his parents).

Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman.When he returned, he said to his father and mother, “I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife.”
His father and mother replied, “Isn’t there an acceptable woman among your relatives or among all our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines to get a wife?
But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me. She’s the right one for me.” 4

He knew, when he met his wife, that she was the one for him. He did not, like David with Bathsheba, simply admire her beauty. He knew in his heart that she was the one. This rings true for me. I'm not sure why. He trusted a higher power, and it was a decision based on faith (even though it did not end well for them).

Well, it doesn't take long to see the analogy between Samson and our lovely country, the U.S.A.  Pardon me for stating the obvious, but while we are strong, a "Christian nation" ... (so I guess we're strong, right?), in many areas of our culture, we don't have our priorities straight at all! We have "in God we trust" on our money,  yet, we perpetuate some of the worst propaganda about sexuality in the world.

We are worse than ambivalent: I don't have to quote song lyrics for you to know that our culture is seriously vile- if you base it on what is popular on screen and in music today. I'll tell you what is mentally deranged (if Samson isn't), it's the hook-up culture co-mingled with our so-called "fear of the Lord."

Samson had good things going for him, like us, but I think Samson was also really, really lost. How would you expect Samson to be a good judge and leader if he is sleeping with prostitutes, cheating on his wife with Delilah, and showing off his great power with flashy vendettas every time he turns around? He is deeply ambivalent, and his end- which is basically an old-fashioned form of a suicide mission- it is definitely one of the saddest stories in the Bible.

But despite how sad this story ends up being, maybe- just maybe- we can learn some things from him.

First of all, I think we can say with certainty that unlike Samson's worldview, the elements of a Christian marriage (and view of sexuality) is that it is rooted in holiness and forgiveness.   Samson wanted neither of these things. He wanted power, and he wanted revenge on his enemies. The examples of divorce are endless in Hollywood. Hook-up culture is rampant. Living together isn't considered "a big deal" anymore. Marriage has been misconstrued, and we even idolize those whose example when it comes to marriage and sexuality is much less than stellar. ;)

Every Christian couple must surrender their worldly dreams and desires for these two things- holiness and forgiveness. Without realizing that marriage is meant to (1) make us holy, we miss the mark deeply. And (2) secondly, in forgiving, Christian couples recognize something that non-Christian couples do not. Both parties in a marriage are deeply responsible for sin- and we both deserve forgiveness. And with that, we must learn to apologize and ask for this forgiveness.

I do not think Samson even got to the place where he said sorry or asked for help. He was strong. He knew it. He was proud. He knew it. He was FINE; he wanted to keep his strength. He didn't care that Delilah was pushy; he lied to her several times before revealing that his hair was the key to his strength. He was deeply flawed, but he wanted revenge on his enemies, and this thirst for revenge led to his own demise. Based on his flaws, I think we can say his life was a sum total of sad, sad, sad.

I think the takeaway here is that we should stop being so much like Samson.

I think that if more marriages started out this way- based on faith- perhaps more marriages would come out stronger. And if they "ended" this way- in faith- they would last longer, and they would bear the fruit that God desires: Holiness, Forgiveness, and ultimately, Love.

linking up with Kelly @ 7QT

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Four Super Simple Sewing Projects

I know I used to talk about sewing a lot on my blog, but it has been so long most of you probably do not remember. My sewing machine broke, and I had to save for a little while to replace it. I am happy to report that it was my goal by September to be back in business with my sewing machine.
remember this one? 

I have a small but reliable repertoire for sewing, and another goal besides #actuallysewing was to improve my small and limited, but definitely reliable, abilities when it comes to sewing.
another old couple of projects- pillow cover, drawstring bag, and burp cloth
you can see the sewing I did for our boy nursery here... I made the quilt, the baby blanket, and the pillow covers shown in the pictures

I think I always thought I would sew curtains or a huge, professional quilt in order to truly call myself a seamstress. But you know what? You don't have to mend clothes, hem skirts, or sew huge blankets in order to be a real seamstress. All you need are a few simple skills, and then you just repeat those skills over and over again, and improve the same projects as you do!

That's what it has taken me thirty-three years to learn. ;)

So today, I bring you four super simple sewing tutorials. This is mainly to release some of my brain space (to make room for more entry points, of course!), but if it helps or inspires you in the sewing department, well, then great!! I hope I can continue these four simple projects through the years in order to bless other people with gifts! ;) Sewing is versatile and helpful- and believe me, it can be simple and pure fun. It doesn't have to be that frustrating sister-in-law in your life.

Leeeeeeeeet's Sew!!!!! :-O

One note before we begin: always pre-wash, dry, and iron your fabric; then you can snip the strings on your raw sides. This prevents shrinkage in future washings of your projects- very important.

(1) Minky Baby Blanket

I must just say this is just about my favorite sewing project to make. You can make it in one day. I looked at the one I made for Anders, and that was about all the reminding I needed to remember how to make this.
Simple directions:
dimensions... sigh... so good at math 
--thats Width by (then) Length--

1. For the front (pictured), cut out 3 rectangles: 31x7, 31x16, and 5x23 - all out of differing (bows, polka-dot, and floral, in my case), but cute patterns.
2. For the back, cut out 1 rectangle (minky pink fabric) total is 1 yd (36in) x23in. (The picture says 38, but just ignore that.... although some extra give can't hurt... you can always trim later).
in process

3. Assemble front pieces (right sides together) and sew together as shown, then iron.
4. For the front piece and back piece, put right sides together-pin-  and sew.
5. Turn right side out, leaving a small space to push out your corners.
6. Topstitch remaining hole, and you are done.
The bonus for a little baby lovie like this is that you do not have to worry about binding. It saves so much time, and it would be a perfect project for a beginner, for this reason.

Lavender  Sachet
Mint + Tea Tree/Eucalyptus Sachet

(2) Lavender, or Mint + Tea Tree/Eucalyptus Essential Oils Sachet^

The last time I made these, I used a blue minky fabric leftover from a baby blanket I made for Anders.  I made a square bag (5x5), and filled it with scraps of fabric and cotton balls doused with  peppermint essential oils. It smelled so good! I suppose you could also fill these bags with rice and heat them for aches and pains! The leftover ballet fabric made a cute door-hanging sachet for the girls' room! And-mmm!! This says, oh so subtly: "Don't forget ballet today! And smell me - I smell like lavender."

I uploaded a video on Youtube just so that you can see that this is a project you can whip up in minutes. Perfect for beginners, too! Which I am, sort of, basically!

1. Cut 2 pieces of 5x5 in. fabric squares
2. Put right sides together
3. Sew all the way around all 4 sides, leaving an inch-wide space
4. Turn right side out, stuff, poking out corners (can use a chopstick for this)
5. Tuck ribbon in space, top stitch it into place



(3) Pillow cover^
So as you can see above, I needed to "girl-ize" the nursery a bit. First thing, sewing a cover for this pretty blue pillow which resides in that room.
Tutorial* (see below)

(4) Tote bag/Ballet bag^~ I told you these would be super simple, and this one definitely is!

1. Fabric 18 1/2 x 13 1/2 (folded on the bottom, total length is 37 in.)
2. Hem the top pieces of your bag 3/4 of an inch (iron down first)
3. Pin and sew the ribbon on, as shown, inside the bag on each side- about 2 inches down, inside
4. Put right sides together and sew the sides
5. You will not have to sew the bottom, because you are using a folded piece of fabric
6. Turn right side out and you are done!

I've loved making drawstring bags for loose socks and traveling miscellany, but I think tote bags are so cute, and wanted to learn how to make them. I found a couple of tutorials online, and I'm so glad I tried my hand at this, because this is definitely a project that is cute + easy.
Just a quick note on this: I  followed a sewing tutorial that I found online for a bag sort of a lot like this one.  I shortened the straps for my version, and obviously made it a little smaller. <3

See? I told you these would be super simple. Next stop: Annabel's baby quilt and a baby book for her! (Will probably be just pictures... we shall see what memories I can conjur!;)

Don't forget to follow me on FB Pinterest and Twitter to stay current on all of the latest.



Also, P.S.

My favorite sewing blogs:

Flossie Teacakes

Anna Maria Horner

Cluck Cluck Sew

My favorite sewing Youtube channels: (I feel like Youtube is a rabbit hole with *so many* poorly done channels! When it comes to sewing?) I keep looking for someone who makes simple, clear tutorials with good directions and so far I only have one~ fortunately she is good- I love her!;).

---->Melanie Ham~ I heart stitching
*She has an excellent tutorial for a pillow cover that I won't try to reproduce here! ;)

Linking up with Tuesday Talk and Welcome Home Wednesdays

Friday, September 16, 2016

An Update + Fall Around These Parts (7QT)

happy Fall!

I didn't mean to take a week off from blogging, but I have been really busy with life, and doing some personal projects! I'm making up for it by joining the other quick takers today at Kelly's!

I'm hoping and planning to write a whole post about the projects I've been working on, but for now, I'll just give you a little recap of what we've been up to.
I love Fall-- all things Pumpkin Spice lattes, shopping thrift stores for decor, and popping into a fabric store for inspiration this time of year. I finally bit the bullet and bought another sewing machine- a Brother (brand) sewing machine. I decided I couldn't really live without one, so here's to making this one last.

We also got out the juicer again, and I've been making all kinds of juice. Pictured is one of my faves: peach, apple-carrot, and celery juice. So delicious and fresh-tasting. And it's like a shot of vitamins to your system, so it makes you feel amazing. This recipe above- with or without the celery- is so sweet-tasting. My kids love it. The pear was super sweet and added a nice touch! Will definitely be making it again. (Stephen bought the juicer before we were married, but we've gotten it out and used it a bunch over the years!!!)

Another aspiration I had was to take my kids out for Mother-Daughter and Mother-Son dates. So many fun places to visit around our town! :-) Molly and I got some hot chocolate and a croissant at Niedlov's bakery. Frances and I checked out the cupcake shop downtown. Madeleine wanted to visit the same place. My diet is going well. Cough cough. Sort of. (I have lost 5 pounds).
yogurt feeder + yogurt eater

We've been busy with Ballet lessons, homework, story time, and driving carpool. Oh, and the girls beg me on the daily for playdates, so occasionally I oblige. Fall is busy, but I actually really like it overall. I finally got a regular babysitter, who is replacing the amazing babysitter we had who moved back to her hometown Nashville. The crisp cool mornings, the promise of October, hot coffee on the cool porch, a moment to myself to just breathe, and all of that. Jazz.
boy toy heaven

Random but fun take: Have you guys heard of Maurices? I'm sure you probably have. It's a clothing store, and they're almost everywhere. We have it in our Mall, and I think it is my new favorite place to find clothes as a 33- year-old mother. I have an affinity for finding non-dressy clothes for myself and my kids at Consignment stores and even Goodwill. Pajamas, t-shirts, etc. But  as for the days when you want to look put together? I've been through Gap, and Banana Republic phases, my bridesmaid dresses were from Ann Taylor, and a little Anthro phase. I did find some cute pajamas on sale at Anthropologie in August- but if you have similar style to me, based on those stores, but want to go a tiny bit more trendy, go check out Maurices!;) Here's an outfit that's true to their style: peasant blouse, fun jacket, and jeggings. Also see their shoes. So cute. A cardigan that fits and looks nice and is actually budget friendly? (unlike here) That is my style.

Other than that, it has just been the normal routine! We are putting down the ruler -- after Ballet, no more extracurricular activities this year!!!!! Whenever the kids get complain-y and cranky after school, we make homemade popcorn, and then we make art. It seems to help. Here's something fun: an acquaintance of mine has a really cool Youtube channel, where she does quality Art Lesson videos. You should check it out, most especially if you're trying to homeschool! ;) Let's help her grow-- she deserves it! I've already done a couple of her lessons with my kids, and a friend of mine also recommended her on instagram. That's where I got the idea to try it. She also has a really fun instagram account. ;)

And Madeleine likes playing baby. :0) These girls are seriously the sweetest big sisters. Yes to the true confessions of sibling fights, but also yes to the sweetness of having girls. #somuchfun
As always, when I am MIA, you can find me on instagram (probably my favorite social media handle right now! ;) See you there, friends!! :0)
favorite instagram from the past three weeks or so

linking up with Kelly at 7 Quick Takes! :0)

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Worrying About Appearances: Is It Glorifying to God?

I think we've all wondered it. Should I take time off from Facebook or Instagram? Is this going to my head? Should I snail-mail it for my next birth announcement to my fifty aunts and cousins? Am I addicted to flattery, or worse, am I mucking around in vainglory?

And the ultimate question, of course, is:

Is it glorifying to God to show off our cute outfits?

Sometimes I wonder this question aloud to myself while reading fashion -and all sorts of other- blogs. We now have a culture in the blogging world (maybe a subculture? Call it what you will...) of link-ups, where in many cases, the primary purpose is to show off a flattering outfit.

I think that fashion is a fun thing. It can be fun to find something flattering and hip, to boot. 

BUT. Yes there is a but. ;) But vainglory is hypocrisy, and no I do not think it is glorifying to God (at all).

Stop whatever you are doing {STOP}, and go watch this TED talk by Lizzie Velasquez. Do you know who Lizzie Velasquez is? She has a condition, or syndrome, where she is unable to gain weight. When she talks about her parents' love, you will feel a deep sense of gratitude. When you hear her story from the first day of Kindergarten, you might cry or cringe. When you hear how she has been bullied over the years, you might for sure cry.* When you hear what keeps her going, you will certainly be inspired.

I think what this TED talk helps me to remember above all is this: We need to stop putting so much weight and worth in our appearance. We need to fill less brain space with "what should I wear," and more with "how can I serve God and others today?"  When something becomes an idol (and anything can), it becomes a god in our life.  Looking cute to others, and worrying about our appearance, quickly turns into idolatry, because it is made up of the stuff of comparison. And more importantly, we are HUMAN SOULS. Those with Downs, or Zika, or cleft palate, birth defects, or a syndrome making it impossible to gain weight, I'm sure have particularly beautiful souls, in the eyes of God. God loves these souls he created!!!!!

Maybe this starts to happen when we spend too much time at the Mall. Who knows. But when we start to compare ourselves to others- what kind of house do they have, what kind of shoes do they wear, what kind of clothes are their kids wearing (???), our thoughts and our hearts aren't glorifying God any more. We are overtaken by envy, by pride, and by a lack of self-control. When I hear bloggers say, "Take a look at X blogger, she is way cuter than me!" I have a HUGE pity party for that person, because she is DOWNRIGHT WRONG.  First off, maybe get a cuter outfit or shirt and stope comparing. Shed a few pounds??? (if we are talking shallow?!) Don't say she's cuter, etc. Stop envying other people their cute figure, their cute appearance, their cute shoes, and think of Lizzie.  Think of what she said about the first day of Kindergarten. She said, "I'm a cool kid. That person is really missing out."

We need to remember that while in our minds, appearance might seem to be the crucial, the most important thing in the world (Blame it on all of those Disney princesses), a lot of people are struggling with their weight, or with money, or with jealousy of another blogger who seems to have it all together.  And it is a deeply serious issue. That's all based on appearances. What is really important?


Are you perpetuating these things? If not, then you need to take a very LONG look in the mirror. You need to ask yourself some very HARD questions.

Don't you think that, upon contemplation, it is good that we have people like Lizzie to remind us of what truly matters? And at the end of the day, isn't it love? I think it reminds us of the kind of love her parents showed her; the kind of love that is unconditional. She is talking about acceptance at school, and issues like that. But I'm talking about even more serious problems, like marital issues. We have had our share of struggles, and let me tell you: the war against sin is a real battle. When you heard the words of Scripture, "He has clothed me with the garment of salvation," make sure that that is what you're clothed with and are clothing yourself with. If it is vanity, that will not produce good fruit.  If it is humility, then we can share something. If it is not, then we cannot. We need COMMUNITY, not jealousy; we need generosity, not selfishness; we don't need shows about dresses- we need shows not about dresses. ;)

*Someone posted a picture of her online and called her "The ugliest person alive," and just like that, as if she were not a real, actual human being, someone commented and said, "Put a gun to your head, and shoot yourself." Now, I want you to look in the mirror. If you had a baby with a syndrome, would you put a gun to that baby's head and shoot?  She is a person. A beautiful human being with an eternal soul that, as far as I know, belongs to God. There is never any excuse whatsoever for murdering that which is precious and created by our Creator.

And if you don't believe in a Creator, or if you do  and you believe abortion is OK, consider how you deface his Holiness by believing it is OK to murder the unborn, no matter their health.  If anything, consider that that baby could be adopted and loved by a Christian family. There is never an excuse to murder the unborn. If you met Lizzie on the street, what kind of person would you be? Would you extend a gracious hand? Would you cross on the other side of the street?! Ask yourself. Now. ~end sermonLOL~

for further reading:
~Visit Focus on the Family. I did a search for Divorce, Infidelity, and Recovery, and many helpful articles came up, and you can read the titles of those articles here: Divorce and Infidelity
~Very important: When You Should Confront Someone About Their Sin? By John Piper on Biblical Confrontation and grounds for it (although not Catholic, he is very, very strong Christian and he is gifted at articulating this type of subject well)
~and finally, also very. very important: The Problem Isn't Invalid Marriages, It's.... 

What is most important? I'll let *you* answer that question. Fill in the blank.

linking up with Tuesday Talk

Friday, September 2, 2016

They Grow Up Too Fast

As I was going through old posts, I took a stroll down memory lane, as I came across a couple of pictures of me when I was pregnant with Annabel.

It has been hard, but also fun this first year.  Hard, because I'll admit it has been a bit of a fog. I've been going through old pictures, and it has just made me happy.   And thankful.

Pregnant with Annabel

Baby Annabel- 1 month old

Baby Girl~ sweetie
"ever since the day you put my heart in motion..."

sweet sisters

this warm and sweet one will turn one tomorrow! *sniff*

a few more from memory lane....

Last year at Halloween

Halloween '15
Frances and Madeleine ~
almost exactly one year ago~ They look so little to me. In just a year, Frances' cheeks have thinned out and she looks so much taller to me now.
When we lived in D.C.- Molly was just a toddler, and that's Frances in the ergo!

Frances as a toddler

Easter '16

I just can't believe how time flies. 

Time. Flies. It does.  It seems like overnight we had 5 kiddos although I know that's not true.
You have to lasso the time... which makes me think of this movie quote: "Do you want the moon? just say the word and I'll throw a lasso around it and pull it down..."* That is how it feels to be a Mommy, friends.

And so I bring you...

7 things I would encourage all mothers everywhere to remember,
In honor of the 1st birthday of my 5th child:

1. Keep Perspective
Remember that each week that you live with little kids is another beautiful week to remember and to consider "under your belt." When the days are long, look back at old pictures and consider how special every single week with these little ones is. The cheeks thin out and the legs get long. It can make you wistful and sentimental, if you're anything like me. And it will inevitably make a wiser Mom out of you, when bumps, bruises, burns, and teeth make you feel crazy.

2. Choose Thankfulness
Whenever I'm struggling with my self-love (or lack thereof), such as weight issues or just generally being dissatisfied when I look in the mirror, I try to list off in my head as many things as I can that make me thankful. Did I make blueberry muffins with fresh, juicy berries this morning? I can thank God for that.Did I right a wrong- such as, did I apologize for anger with a stack of freshly folded laundry and a cupcake-date with one child? I think the thing here is to embrace reality and the present, because sometimes life is so hard, we would rather escape the big changes and the difficult struggles for right against wrong. Choose thankfulness for the things in life that are going well. And try to align your life to the standards of your heart, rather than the physical.

3.  Do things for yourself, but don't let those things become an idol.
I love to do adult coloring books, I love podcasts, I love walks, I love reading. But at any point when these things have become an idol, I have had to take a break from them and, GET SOME PERSPECTIVE!!! Even though it is a good habit, even exercise can become an idol. It can make us feel better and superior,  or we can be carving out too much time for it, and ultimately these feelings of pride crash and burn into self-loathing, and we all know that's no good. You've got to find your self-worth in Christ.

4. I've said it before, I'll say it again: Enjoy it/them.
On the hard days, hug a little closer, snuggle a little tighter. Have a tickle fest.  Enjoying your kids is another way to enjoy motherhood. Jot down some specific things you love about each child. Write memories in a journal. (Do it!) As you would wish someone would send your child a card or little gift, send a card or gift your your niece, nephew, granddaughter, grandson. Enjoy and appreciate the little ones, for they keep our world going 'round.

5. Don't rush it.
Time flies. You look at your watch, and the hour drags, but I'm telling you, the week will fly. Fill your calendar to overflowing like I do, and the month will fly as well. Busyness may not be your cup of tea. If not, - I've always said that there's nothing a little bluegrass music can't cure. Cheerfulness a la some Indigo Girls or Nickel Creek can be a salve to a wound on a very bad day. To all of you in the trenches of motherhood: take heart! Your job as a mother is important as all get out. Keep doing what you do.

6. Get Support

I just recently started counseling again, after my former counselor moved out of town, about 6 months ago.  You guys, I can't begin to describe how helpful this has been for my spirit. My counselor is cheerful and a strong Christian, and talking to her always puts my feelings and fears in perspective. It is comforting to talk with someone who has studied and has a ton of wisdom - in the specific areas in which most people struggle- in a snug and cute little office. It is actually kind of fun! And cathartic! I can dump on someone, so I don't feel the need to a) dump on friends or family and b) carry those bad feelings around with me.

7. Don't Compare

When looking at old pictures, it's easy to think thoughts like, "Life was better then," or "life was easier," or "I didn't have the cares that I have now." We all know it, but it serves as a good reminder that those wistful thoughts of times past are nice, but never really based in reality! Things were just as hard then as they are now. (Maybe for different reasons). And reading blogs, or scrolling insta, where other people appear beautiful or charming, can also be a violent tournament of emotions warring in our minds and hearts, if we are tempted to compare our shitty lives with a false version of reality! So don't!

Finally: Dweej/Dwija from House Unseen (awesome instagram account!) has some amazing advice for you right here so do go check that out before you forget. ;)
Happy Friday!!!! :-)

And remember: we are all in this together. And at the end of the day, there is nothing more fulfilling.

*name that movie
if you missed it, I also published my monthly recap this week and you can read it here