Sunday, October 30, 2016

Monthly Recap vol. 38 ~ October 2016


40. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Reading Moriarty and getting to the end is like nirvana. She has several storylines going at once, and when she ties them together, I go to a different realm of my own reality. This book was especially thrilling and surprising. It had me on the edge of my seat in such a good way. Highly recommended!  Second favorite after What Alice Forgot, for sure. I'm glad I read this next, because I was beginning to lose hope after The Husband's Secret which was *a little too dark for me.* #HSP #gritty 5/5 stars

41. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
I love books about the struggle of minorities. This book about growing up hispanic in Chicago scratched my itch for a book in this genre, since ethnicity and race in American Lit is one of my favorite genres. I did learn from it. However, to be honest, I kept scratching my head, wondering what the fuss was about this book. She wrote each chapter so that it could be read individually, that is, a part separate from the whole. She explained in the intro that she was telling her story, as well as the stories of her students.  I felt that for me, this strategy was lacking in some way. I wanted to hear her story and I wanted the chapters to hang together. Perhaps she has done that in a future book, I just don't know. 3/5 stars

42. The Little Bookstore at Big Stone Gap by Wendy Welch
What a sweet, romantic, heartwarming memoir about the love of books! Wendy Welch lives with such a passion for life, and her book isn't going to disappoint you in the least. This story of independent bookselling awesomeness has such a universal appeal. I think most if not all women - any age- will be able to appreciate this memoir. You'll want to read *even more* books, and then sip tea all day after reading this-- trust me! 5/5 stars

43. Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
This was recommended at my local Barnes and Noble. It's a good book to keep on your Kindle and read in little snatches of time. It's entertaining and original. The writing is pretty stellar, which is what my the blurb on "Staff Picks" told me and led me to pick it up;)  It is, centrally, about a cult that does not allow the reproduction of data via scanning- therefore, no Kindles, no internet, no devices. Sometimes novels written by men have less appeal to me, personally, than novels written by women. Well it is a boon to this author that his name is Robin, because I thought he was a woman. LOL!  All in all, I did enjoy it. The lifestyle portrayed had a bit to be desired, which bugged me. I think so often bestsellers can portray a very worldly point of view, and you either just have to roll with it, or it bugs you enough to set the book down. I think you should try reading it, particularly if the issue of screens is a conundrum to you... (maybe even on a Kindle or other device?) and then you can be the judge! ;)

~Kids are reading~

Molly finished the first Harry Potter this Summer, and she is well into the Chamber of Secrets (#2). She has read two Narnia books at night with Daddy, and she is reading Little House in the Big Woods right now, as well.

And with the littles, a million and two read-aloud picture books, as always. The Library is our third best friend!;)

*just noticed I read >>two<< books this month with the word "bookstore" in them- haha!!*
~Also, I'm getting close to my yearly goal, 50 books. I'm working on writing a post condensing thoughts and achievements. ;)


I posted a file to Soundcloud, and it is my response to the accusation on Twitter last month that my book reviews are "rushed." Listen here.


~Funny Things They Say~

{playing bookstore}
Madeleine: You have to pay me cash *and* swipe your credit card.
Me: .... {giving her fake cash}
Madeleine: Swipe your credit card!!
Me: Well. This should bode well for the bookstore industry...!

Stephen: It seems like they are demanding perfection on your Math homework.
Molly: That's what 3rd grade is all about! Perfection!


As usual, I'm listening to all my favorite podcasts. WSIRN, the Jen Fulwiler show, and RAR in constant rotation. I've added a few since the last time we talked podcasts. It has been forever, I think. First, for sure add Happier with Gretchen Rubin if you haven't yet!  Gretchen Rubin discussed with her sister Elizabeth Craft recently the difference between a well-intentioned gift and an ill-intentioned one. This discussion was funny and so interesting, and it really rang true for me. I've had experience with the ill-intentioned gift in the past, and it really can be so hurtful and it can drain your happiness. I was laughing out loud and nodding my head along- so fun, so- listen!
Also check out Smartest Person in the Room with Laura Tremaine and Megan Tietz. ;)
And that's it!

all of them pretty... every single one.;)

Food Network Star
I don't know why I dropped in on one of the later seasons, but as a Food Network fan in general, I really enjoyed Season 9 of this fast-paced show. I was super invested in all of the people, and also so very curious to find out the winner. I fell in love with all of the contestants- especially the women haha. Also, Giada, Alton, and (I guess) Bobby as judges? #lovefoodnetwork

Some of the new Portlandia, season 6
Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein make me laugh until I cry. Carrie is so very funny and Fred is in a class all his own, truth be told. This particular season is still seedy in parts , so skip those parts or be warned!;) (I would add that they have dropped some of the weirdo characters of past seasons, thankfully, which may relieve some viewers.... I'm not into creepy-weird, so PARE DOWN PLEASE). The cast is still so spot-on, and you have to watch just to see some of their special guests.... omygosh for example, The Flaming Lips. This show continues to break stereotypes and I truly believe the combo of these two with their director, Jonathan Krisel, and we are talking genius, people. I hope they make a movie, because I think Krisel could be/ already is the next Wes Anderson.

I'm also looking forward to this!

I've dug out a couple of old CD's and the bands I forgot about being so good! It's fun! Stephen has been busting out Weezer's blue album and I've been listening to Flaming Lips and Ace of Base (Yes, really!)  in the car. There's just magic in some of those old songs for me. I don't know why! ;) I tried listening to the Decembrists because they were one of my favorite bands in college and... nope. Way too depressing for me now. I'll work on compiling those others into a Spotify playlist for ya soon. ;) Also you should follow me on Spotify! It's fun, promise ;)


How Tolstoy Called Me Out of My Superficial Life @ Aleteia
I have not read this piece by Rhonda Ortiz, but I have marked it to-read and plan to! ;)

Are You Being Defensive? @ Psychology Today
This story features someone at work who is always on the defensive. I found it very interesting, and I think it applies to all of us at some point in life, because who likes criticism? It's easier to say "You're wrong!" than to really hear the criticism being spoken or brought to light. Worth reading!

Our Budget Friendly Pre-school room @ Sweet Little Ones
I'm all about a budget!;)

Family Fun in NYC @ The Little Caboose
This looked like such a fun trip in a city that I adore. Heart heart heart.

Is Pre-School Good for Kids@ Great Schools
We've put all our kids in Pre-school but not everyday Pre-K. Our kids have a good Catholic Pre-K program, andI will say I believe quality Pre-school will provide opportunities for everything that your child needs. They will have time to run, time to play, plenty of skill-building, computer class (typing, etc) and opportunities to share. They will learn together in community, they will go on field trips, they will be stretched. They've all made incredible friends and have mind-blowingly good teachers IMHO. Plus, our school includes Mass two times a week, learning to pray the rosary, and faith is a central part of all of their learning. They take the Iowa standardized tests (not TCAP) and it is a very good test. My kids have all learned *so* much, and they make amazing friends. You can't put a price tag on that! ;)

How to Build a Hexastix in 72 Easy Steps @ Matt Parker/standupmaths
If you want to keep your kids fascinated for about 15 minutes, have them watch this. It's entertaining and completely engrossing.


31 days of drinks.... no, really. What did we drink? search #31daysofdrinks on instagram to find out;)

Stephen and I are about to celebrate our *10th* wedding anniversary. Feels big, right?! We wanted to go to the Big Apple, but with some personal things going on in our lives, that wasn't in the cards this year. More on that later. We will be able to get away somewhere in a few weekends. I am so excited. I'll keep you abreast of all of our goings on, over on instagram!! ;)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

That Time When Popularity Had Me in a Choke-Hold

When I first started blogging, I had a little community.  It was little, and I had trusted followers and friends on a little site called 'chattablogs.'  We were part of a bigger blogger community, and although that site one day fizzled out and dried up, I kept blogging. I blogged with the hopes that I had kept a faithful few that had gotten to know me and my writing style.

As I grew in blogging, I faced many roadblocks. One of the hardest was overcoming my incessant desire for more followers, readers, and comments.  If I broke a record for myself, say, most page views, my mind would immediately jump to my other stats. Not enough comments. If I achieved a goal such as "write a novel" or "write a guest-post for so-and-so," I would then feel a subsequent creeping sense of failure for something else... Not enough followers on Twitter or instagram.  If - in my mind- I didn't have enough people clicking over, commenting, or interacting on one of the many SM channels, I felt like a failure and I would complain in my head, and often to Stephen.

The other problem I found with blogging was the need for constant comparison to other bloggers, to see how I measured up against their stats. When I visited anyone's Facebook blog page, I would immediately begin the comparisons of numbers, pictures, and "about me" descriptions. If they were vying for yet another award a creeping sense of failure would attack me, once again. Rather than community, I began to feel competition. Rather than friendliness, I sensed vacancy. The vacuous need for growth in numbers was clearly the driving force behind many of these blogs.

As you can maybe tell by now, I was setting an impossible standard for myself constantly. I have to admit, I still think about these things. But at some point, I reached an impasse. If you haven't reached that "point" yet in your blogging journey, fellow Bloggers, then I assure you, you will. You will or it will kill you (or you will die trying... haha ;) I realized that I had achieved goals for myself, and that made me happy. I realized that popularity had me in its jaws, and the clenches were tightening over time, rather than loosening. When I noticed all of the little things people said, and all of the numbers over on SM starting to affect my mood, less positively, about five years ago or so, I realized I needed to take a break from blogging.

I have taken various breaks from blogging. Some longer than others. Sometimes I have shut down a blog all together. But I'm proud to say that prior to reaching my most consistent blogging routine, I had to let something go. In order to be truly proud of my work as a blogger, I had to let go of something HUGE >>> my desire for popularity.

I admit it: I see people in the blogosphere who are literally "Royals." They have all the awards, accolades, privileges, and opportunities. They have the numbers. In fact, they're "America's Next Top Model" of blogging.

But honestly? It makes me sad.

It makes me sad because I remember being there, and I have never felt so alone.

Nothing satisfied me.

Nothing made me feel truly accomplished.

Popularity had me in a choke-hold, and my desire for "more" became my obsession.

When I see people doing all that they can to add to their numbers, and still they're trying to get more jobs, and more people on their team, and more of x, y, and z, I'm glad to say I've pretty much let it go.

Does that mean I've given up trying to grow? No.
Does it mean I now have a ticket that gives me the opportunity to stop trying? No.

Does it mean I have immense peace? Yes. I know my purposes better now. I can measure growth in terms of little things- a kind comment. Yes, one comment that makes my day. That's a success in my mind. Seeing personal improvement in my writing, reading, mothering, or other hobbies as a result of the community I have here. That has not come with some pricks to my pride, some falls, some failures, some mistakes, and even- yes, some lost friendships.

I love blogging. I suppose I have found a modicum of success in blogging. Truly, though, I love all that it has to offer. I have made friends, I have grown, I have changed, and my skills have been sharpened. It all feels worth it to me now, somehow. I'm thankful for this crazy, unpredictable, awesome awesome awesome medium. Blogging has been a gift to me.

But--- you see, I'm not in it for popularity.  Shedding that feeling of competitiveness is like curing a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach. It is like a cleanse or a fast.  You can set it where it belongs, on the shelf, and move on with life. Keep trying, keep going, don't stop. But don't dwell in the numbers, don't worry about approval. Shift your perspective. As soon as you can. Let go of counting- it's all fiddlesticks anyway.

I'm not in it to play the popularity game. Why?

Because that, for me, is a satisfying place to be.

By the way, I will be taking a two-week long hiatus from blogging. Find me on instagram for #31daysofdrinks! ;)

Thoughts? Comments? ;-)

Linking up with Tuesday Talk

Friday, October 14, 2016

Art Camp! 7 Fun Fall Crafts For Kids

The girls are on Fall Break right now, and rather than tell you about the things we *hope* to do for Fall, instead I'm going to tell you about how we tried to do Art Camp during their break. This way I can tell you how it went and show you some pictures of what we made!  I got this idea when I was talking over some ideas for Fall Break with Frances, and she said, "Mommy, making art is my favorite thing. I love making art."  So I suggested Art Camp, and she was over the moon excited.
At Starbucks, planning and getting ready for our week

This is ironic that Frances was so excited, because usually Molly is my art girl. Of course when I floated the idea with Molly, she was more than game. I think Frances is coming into her own with her interest in all things artistic. (Just as an aside: when I ask Frances what she wants to be when she grows up, she says, "Everything." I asked her what that meant and she said, "Artist, Singer, Mommy, and everything else." :-0 haha) And Madeleine is generally as easy to please as her sisters. If art is involved, she's there. If Anders is going to tag along, well, that's fine too! ;)

Want to see what we made?


Paper Mosaic Pumpkins

- cut orange, green, and brown paper into little tiny squares (kids can help, but they don't have to!)
- Note: if the child is younger, make their squares a bit bigger.
- use glue to attach them in a pattern on your paper
-to make this a bit simpler, try squeezing a small circle of white glue on a scrap paper. The kids can dip the paper into the bit of glue, then place it on the paper


Button Candy Corn Art
- using clay, playdoh, or cornstarch dough, (we did homemade dough) shape into a triangle with rounded corners
- add white, yellow, and orange buttons, or beads, in lines to make a candy corn
- I promised my kids a reward of candy corn at the end of the week for a job well done at Art Camp :0)

Autumn Trees
- two ways: first, using tissue paper, add fall leaves to your trunk with glue
- using fingerprints and q-tips, add tiny leaves to your cardstock trunk

Spider Web Art
- two versions: first, draw a web using white pastel
- paint over it with differing shades of blue and purple (liquid watercolor and watercolor paper will work best)
- second, draw a web using white crayon
- again, paint over it with differing shades of blue and purple
- sprinkle salt on your painting as it is drying

Painted Leaf With Name Letter
- using wooden leaves, and wooden letters, paint and attach using wood glue, when dry
-hang with string for a garland or use to decorate a mantel or door
- Here's a good tutorial featuring pumpkins (very similar), another great idea

Baking Soda Dough Playtime
- mix together 1/2 c. cornstarch, 1 c. baking soda, and 3/4 c. water to make a ball of dough for each child (more detailed instructions here)
- have fun playing with it
- ask the kids to make fall-themed shapes (trees, pumpkins, leaves, gourds, etc.)

Salt Dough Pumpkins & Candy Corn
- make homemade salt dough
- bake in the oven (more detailed instructions here)
- paint orange, decorate when they're done
- we do this all the time-- any time we have extra time on our hands
-bake on a 200 oven for 2-3 hours, longer depending on the size of your ornaments
Edited to add:

Tea party and spider webs! ;)

Our final product

Interested in doing this yourself? Here are all of the materials we used:
tissue paper
wooden letters
wooden cutout leaves
liquid watercolors
cardstock- black
construction paper
dough ingredients

Linking up with 7 Quick Takes

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Lewis Carroll, Fear-mongering, and Jealousy

Lewis Carroll

My favorite person in literary history has to be Lewis Carroll. I know that's a strong statement, but I think about him all the time. I have been very influenced by Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, I love his poetry and riddles, and his biography veritably changed my life. I first learned about him at my Christian High School math class.  We talked about genius, how math and logic are connected, and we watched a biographical movie about his life.

I think what I adore about Lewis Carroll was that he was so gifted, and very blessed during his life, but as he was a strong Christian, he suffered very, very deeply.  He was misunderstood.  He was accused of things he didn't do. He didn't get everything he wanted in his life. But if you think of how many children he inspired, and how many people he touched by his influence, it is mind-blowing.  Our collective imaginations have been transformed by his work. I think he deserves a bigger place in history than he even now has.
If you haven't read any of his great works, or if you want to read a stunning biography, please keep Carroll in mind! So. good! Do me a favor and at the very least, try a read aloud of "Jabberwocky"


Seemingly unrelated, I want to talk about fear-mongering for a minute. I see people throw around fearful talk all the time. One person in particular who has a special penchant for arousing our fearful emotions is Donald Trump. I've written about him in the past - Why I Will Never Vote Trump, and Vote With Your Whole Mind. I do not like him, Sam I Am.

My Dad is a physician. All growing up, I remember he would tell us stories at the dinner table. He usually told us someone came in, and how that person was doing, and what they talked about. There was usually humor and laughing at dinner, as I recall. However, during the rare occasions that he mentioned that person's health or something specific related to geriatric disease or any kind of health problems, my Mom would interrupt. Many times, she would say, "We don't want to hear about that, Henry!"  Or just "Henry!" Or sometimes, "HENRY!!"  It was quite comical, actually.

Now, as you may guess, my Dad has the healing charism.  He has the disposition to be in a hospital, visiting patients, without being phased by death and disease -- or at the least, he is able to stay peaceful and calm in the midst of those situations.  However, my Mom kept him from bringing up disgusting or terrifying things, or discussing them at the dinner table.  I have always believed that if something causes you to worry, it will do no good bringing it up over and over again. I'm pretty sure fear-mongering isn't helpful, particularly, if like me, you struggle with anxiety.

Some examples:

"What if we end up dying like 'so and so'?"

"St. Therese had a horrible death-- here are several very specific examples of why!"

Or, fear-mongering in marriage:

"If you say that again, I will leave you!"

"This isn't going to end well!"

All of these things will do no good and instead will give you more worry than you need.  If you need to skip details when in discussion, please for the sake of your sanity, do so.*


I think many would-be creatives (would-be politicians? ahem) do not understand that if you want to be creative, you have to suffer, and they need a certain disposition and certain experiences, in order to lead a creative life. For Lewis Carroll, achieving a creative life meant a deep passion for children and children's stories. This was one of the main ways he was misunderstood.  Because of his close relationship with the real "Alice," he was accused of loving children too much, as many of his stories were borne of real interactions with her. It seemed strange that a professor of Logic at Cambridge would want to take a child to tea, but he was just that kind of person! He bore that cross with humility and courage. As a creative type myself, I have to cast aside all of my burdens, and especially my anxieties, or I would be apathetic about the things that really matter in life.  I have gotten flack from non-creative types, because they do not understand my brand of humor. They do not understand that mourning is a big part of being able to make art (or in my case, read and write).

Do you will that you would be able to make art? Do you have creative passions that you have pushed aside? My biggest advice to you would be to shed your doubts and fears. Shed doubts about your own abilities. Shed fears about what people will think of you or how they may judge you.  Do you dream of lucid thoughts and clear thinking? Do you wish to be a clairvoyant, or more articulate? Cast aside fear. Lay down the arrogance and jealousy. Move forward with the grace and courage of God, your Maker. Make a practice of not allowing yourself fearful or anxious thoughts. Turn off the news or radio any time the announcers and politicians bring up fearful things. It will do you good to do so.

We play into the Devil's hands when we use fear as a motivating power. That is exactly what he (The Devil) wants us to do. The spirit of God is one of peace. If *fear* is the platform, we play into the enemy's hands. Terrorism is the perpetration of terror and fear. This is a time of great need for strength, respectful dialogue, and courage.
Also: Donald and I are like green eggs and ham- and it doesn't end well. ;)
Linking up with Tuesday Talk

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

For Those Times When You Just Need Grace (With a Playlist)

I was feeling overwhelmed and unproductive. I listened to this podcast. I decided to take one day and track my time.

A couple of things about this day: it was an early pick-up day, meaning the kids were done at 2:15 instead of 3:15. Also, they had no ballet on this particular day. Also, the little kids didn't have any activities, which means it was a "stay-at-home" day for Mom.

-7-8am breakfast, make lunches, do hair- oldest 3 go to school
-8-8:30 screen time
-8-8:45 clean up
-9-9:30 walk (get ready, get everything together, change diapers)
-9:30-10:30 go to the store, put it all away
-10:30-11 clean up, let the kids play, feed Annabel, put her down
-11-11:30 clean up, play with Anders, check email/phone
-11:30 eat lunch
-12pm read, play, put Anders down
-12-12:45 clean, write emails, make lists, etc.
-12:45-1:30 read
-1:30-2 clean and pick up girls

After School/Evening
Don't judge me, but I allow a little extra screen time in the afternoon. It helps them wind down, and they take turns on the iPad for games. They're usually so burnt out from being at school all day that this down time is all they're in the mood for- not everyday, some days we play outside during this time, sometimes they have Ballet, etc)
-2:30-3:30 screen time for kids (some watch a little kid show, bigger kids play iPad), put clothes away for Mom
-3:30 Art lesson
-4-5 screen time, (usually trade iPad and TV)  pick up, set the table
-5:30 dinner
-6-7 Homework and playtime
-6:45 Go for a walk (just Mom), Kids play or hang out with Daddy
-7-8 Bathtime & Bedtime for kids
-8-9 Show for Mom
-9 Shower
-9:30 Listen to podcasts, scroll instagram, clean up, wind down
-10:15 bedtime

The reason I decided to track my time on this particular day was so that I could hold myself accountable to temptations, such as "scroll instagram for an hour," or "read for 5 minutes," or "forget about chores and sit in my bed listening to podcasts." lol

But it turned out to be helpful to see how routine-oriented our days really are!
Making time for reading, writing, sewing, and baking is manageable, based on how long the kids nap in the afternoon each day, and how I choose to limit screen time, outside-the-home activities, and just generally practice self-care and self-control! Of course it helps if I don't need a nap.

I think a lot of times, I go to bed and feel a failure because I am always interrupted, or I am lazy to jump to my responsibilities of caring for the house while the kids need to be fed, dressed, picked up after, and changed. These interruptions are built into our schedule, so it is far less likely for me to become exasperated. There is enough time to empty the dishwasher AND do my other chores while watching and correcting the kiddos.

But this shows that I am accomplishing a lot, even if I'm not lovingly reading them 1,000 pages aloud everyday or teaching them how to read, or turning them into rich, famous millionaire saints. ;)

I don't have to stop and take a picture of myself in the mirror and post it to my instagram followers to feel good about myself. I'm confident in myself without needing that kind of flattery, and without the need to show off. "I JUST WENT FOR A JOG!!" #50likes

The key to these really popular posts is that flattery isn't the same thing as love. "Never trust a flatterer," they always say.

I don't need all of that attention to not feel a failure.

Mainly the reason why? Because it's empty anyway. It's like Brangelina's divorce. They will probably sell the story for millions, but where does that leave them? Famous and sad.  I'm not saying you shouldn't try to grow on the internet. But if you're doing it in a way that leaves other people sad, maybe you should reconsider your motivation, and if the gold stars really are worth it to your overall mental health.

"A kind word makes anger go away, but toxic thoughts cause them to brew."

This is my "new translation" of an old verse.

Do you ever wonder why the battle against vices can be so hard?

When you are flying high, soaring on the wind without a care, and you hear someone else is low, do you have trouble imagining why?

And then, when your own world is rocked, and you're the ship wrecked on rocky shores, isn't it hard to imagine waking up sun-shiny?
Do you remember that little song "Let Her Go" by Passenger that came out a few years ago? Such a good song.

He says:
"Well you only need the light when it's burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go
Only know you've been high when you're feeling low
Only hate the road when you're missing home
Only know you love her when you let her go
And you let her go...."

The poetry really articulates sadness well.  Why does darkness- sometimes- feel so very, very dark? And why do we miss it just when it vanishes?

I think it is because we live in a toxic world.

When you're smooth-sailing through your morning errands, and someone makes a horribly rude comment, or treats you less-than with-dignity, or if envy for the narcissistic show-offs can de-rail you, and it's not fair.  It brings up old wounds. It deflates the soul like a balloon ten days after the party.

*just to mix the metaphors a little further* cough...

How can we show ourselves grace in the midst of a broken, fallen, hurting world where toxicity abounds, and kind words sometimes feel like they are few and far between-- an exception rather than the rule?

1.  If you wake up feeling non-sun-shiny, remember: whatever you are facing only has to be faced today. Even if it feels insurmountable, just do you and just do today. And track your time!

2. Put yourself in God's presence, pray, and ask for wisdom and peace.
Just asking God to fix it in a Hail-Mary-ten-times kind of way can bring a little piece of peace in the midst of the hard places.  And then, stop. Really! Just stop there. A little really can go a long way.

3. Seek out wisdom, rather than toxicity. Hold THAT in your heart. So that, when you face a toxic world, you have inner wisdom to deal with temptation, bad thoughts, and bad ideas.

4. If your heart is hurting, perhaps you are longing for another world. In the City of Men, you are desiring the City of God- as we all are.  Focus on the philosophy that the world is passing away, set your thoughts on that- because "out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks." So when you hear toxicity coming out, you will understand that what goes in will come out. Give yourself the grace to know that you have another chance and you can always apologize and right your wrongs when you hurt the people around you, or when they hurt you.;)

5. Fast and Pray.
No one is perfect. Not even the models, the superstars, the NFL players, the Pope. But we can practice self-control, and sometimes this can do far more good for our wounds than begging God again and again to "Fix it."  Pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and try again.

Translation: GRACE.

6. Be around supportive friends (or call a friend/sister/cousin to catch up!)

7. Listen to good music.

And on that note... here is a playlist for the hardest days.

Linking up with Tuesday Talk and 7QT
Don't forget! Join me over on instagram for 31 days of drinks! #31daysofdrinks
You can also follow me on Twitter- I'd love to have you there! I'm quite active and I enjoy that platform.  If you want to connect with me via Facebook, I'd love to have you. Finally, find me on Google Plus.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Monthly Recap vol. 37~ September 2016

I love the Fall, you guys. It has been an unseasonably warm September, although I know it always takes awhile to get into full swing here in the South. However, I am LOVING these cool mornings. I love to open the doors to the back porch and enjoy the cool, crisp morning breeze. Ahhhhh.


Trying back to get to my yearly goal for reading on Goodreads, (as of beginning of September, I had  read 35/50 books) I tried to catch up a bit. In order to meet my Reading Challenge goal by December, I needed and still need to read about 5 books per month! If I don't meet my goal, oh well. At least I have 5 healthy children and a happy baby and fries with that diet coke. ;)

Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren Winner

I read this while waiting in line for my kids in the carline pick up at school. She delves into the meaning behind many of the Jewish traditions from her childhood. As a convert to Christianity, she schools us on how to apply these disciplines to a Protestant life. Unfortunately, I don't think the modern Christian church has adopted many of these teachings yet. I also cannot help but thinking that after many beautiful, strong books about faith, she ended up getting divorced from her husband, something our Church looks down on more heavily than the Protestant churches' traditions. Honestly makes me think of Elizabeth Gilbert announcing she's a lesbian: So sad! Really? Did this have to happen to someone with such a gift (and for Winner, with such a faith?) I know these things happen and I don't judge you if you or someone you love is divorced. What I am saying is: Let's be honest about it. Let's know the Church teaching on it. And let's call it what it is: sad. Maybe this honesty will turn the statistics around. We can only hope. ;)

On the Other Side of Fear by Hallie Lord

I'm nothing if not honest, and I have to say that I did not like this book and found it rather depressing. The premise seemed to be "baby Catholic realizes her errors," because the idea of trusting God should be second nature, not new information (which is what the idea for this book is based on.) I felt like this was another book that rushed to print and it was written for the sake of the author to compete with her homeboys. #ontheothersideofjealousy Her first book about spicing up marriage did not seem to me to glorify God, but rather to cause envy to those who may perceive that she is so lucky to have the marriage that we all wish we had- romantic husband, beautiful wife- such an idol in our culture today. I think you shouldn't waste your time. Or money.;) #blowitoffcompletely 

Coming Clean by Seth Haines

I was really excited about this book when I first started digging in. The writing is solid, almost poetic. Grounded in Scripture, which my childhood Protestantism secretly rejoiced in, it's about how he battled severe alcoholism and coped with sobriety. This all, in the wake of his son's failure to thrive and unexplained illness/syndrome (they're not sure as the book starts), so he must deal with his own demons. He must decide how long to remain sober, because it is numbing his ability to forgive and see things clearly as his son struggles. He is a good writer, this will keep your senses and your mind interested. The gradual tapering off of fine detail and the repetitive nature of the second half of the book earned 4 rather than 5 stars in my book.

Love & Salt

I decided it was time for a reread of one of my favorite books from the past 5 years. This book happens to also feature two Catholic women, which of course is right up my alley. They write letters to each other as one is converting to the faith. They seem to have a pretty strong faith, and they both go through hard things through the course of the letters, and it's a refining book for sure. If you're a young Catholic woman and you've never read it, put it on your TBR list right away.

Now I can safely say that I have inched that goal up to 39. 11 books to go. I figure that if I read 4 books in October, 3 books in November, and 4 books in December, I will be up to 50.  :-D Feels good to do the math like that. :0)
The nice thing about hot Fall.... you can still grill out all through September
BUT if you live anywhere other than the hot South, be thankful. In fact, thank your lucky stars over and over and over again. Our afternoons didn't break a temp below NINETY degrees until around the 17th.  Even then it only cooled off in the afternoon a handful of times. :'-( Yes what you think I am saying is what I am saying. It was that hot


Stephen is still obsessed with The Flash. I watched about five or so episodes and decided to return to Old Faithful. I rewatched a few of my all-time favorite movies while folding laundry:Sweet Home Alabama, Beaches (not joking), The Notebook (again, not joking, sorry) and Harvey. Siiiiigh. Jimmy Stewart is a-ok! And I just don't know. Ok, here it is. I'm #comingclean. I really like Bette Midler. I like her. I like her music, I think she's an excellent actress, she can do anything (act, sing, record albums, tour, etc) and well there you go. #confessions #windbeneathmywings #wbmwforever


Read from bottom to top #welldoneamerica

Rapunzel, Anne Shirley, and Jo March

~Funny Things They Say~

Madeleine: I left my tic-tacs right here on the desk. And since today is tomorrow, I can eat them now.

Madeleine: Yo-Yo peed in the glitter box.
~enter discussion of whether or not it just sounds cool to say that or if she really knows it's litter box~ (she's still not sure)

Madeleine: Mommy! I smell the homemade pizza you just made!
later: Thank you for making homemade pizza for dinner, tonight Mommy.
(it was enchiladas, and I haven't made homemade pizza in


Juice! As I mentioned, I love making juice in our juicer. I think my favorite is either peach, celery, apple, or Garden Party which consists of (in my world): spinach, carrot, apple, parsley, pear, and sometimes green pepper or ginger. YUM Yum yum.

Speaking of which: a little announcement. In which, I post #31daysofdrinks in October!
It has become a sort of tradition. Every October, over on instagram, I post a picture of what I'm drinking every single day.  I'm so excited to do it again! Fun! I've already started! #31daysofinstagram #31daysofdrinks


Lemonade @ The Fike Life
This resonated with me because our house here is a step up from our house in D.C. and it seems Blythe won the jackpot with that house. Look at her garden/yard (that view?!)

My Hardest Part of Being a Mom at Home @ Whole Parenting Family
Again, resonated. Yay Nell. So good. 

Fighting a Growing Season @ Humble Handmaid
I think I will forever and always love this blog provided she keeps posting. #Goodpost.

Felipe @ Camp Patton
#shedtears #sosweet #allthefeels

~My Top Posts From September~

Come on, October! I was Born Ready for you.
Linking up here and here