Friday, June 30, 2017

Monthly Recap vol. 44~ June 2017


I can't believe I've been doing monthly recaps for 44 months already! That's like ~almost~ 4 years! WOW!!! It has been a mild June for TN but the crape myrtle are in bloom and they are delightful! . We've enjoyed these flowering trees, as well as the magnolias in bloom and the lightning bugs. Quintessential #southernliving. If you didn't catch it, I started doing my Weekly Minutiae posts again. They are simply my Friday posts where I talk about what we did, silly things about the kids, cute pictures of the kiddos, and bookish talk. Vol. 20 was up last Friday, ftw.

June was nice. June was surprisingly restful.  Our church family and area community stepped up with meals when we had Conrad, and I didn't have to cook for nearly 6 weeks.  We were covered for the first month, then we had a gift card to a dinner delivery service from local area restaurants with a balance of $140. (so amazing!) We had our last meal, with leftovers!, delivered right on Conrad's 6 week birthday. Amazing. I love our community of friends/family!

As for the kids, two of the girls went away for camp in Nashville. They did VBS. They did sleepovers with the grands. Stephen took the kids to his parents' house right after Conrad was born, just to give me a break. (#thanks). Sadly, some of the traveling we had planned had to be postponed due to the busy schedules of our kids and the arrival of Mr. Conrad Eugene. Despite the new baby-busyness, our Summer has been everything we hoped and more. Babies are sweet, beer is good, and God is good.


Also in the ~lately~ category, I had a chance to meet up almost half-way with my friend and former college roomie Libba at Ikea in Atlanta. I'm still working with a bum computer, so go see pics *right here* on my Instagram.:)

~Reading~

The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

This is my second book by Eugenides, the first being The Marriage Plot (which I did *not* like).  I'm in a good mood, so I'll say that Eugenides is sometimes brilliant, sometimes annoying, but if I were in a bad mood (like I was two days ago), I would say he's a dick. Just the technical term. No really, I hate that word (and the urban dictionary defines it as abrasive, and I would add enslaved to pride) and I know it sounds crass, but so be it.  The truth is, this book is intricate and well-written. The mood, tone, and style are highly consistent, and he carries out his purpose with intention and slavish attention to detail. So, well-written. The subject matter is just as inappropriate, disturbing, and honestly, disgusting as you might imagine. He has just enough of those few lines and zingers to offend even the least self-righteous among us. So basically, it is almost exactly what I was expecting, maybe a little worse even. ;-)  I haven't read anything else by Eugenides. I think I'm done.

Seriously... I'm Kidding by Ellen Degeneres

Even punks like Ellen.  I happen to like her a lot. She cracks me up. If you like her sense of humor, I recommend this book to you. It is a fun beach read, and you'll read it in a day or two, maybe an afternoon (even if you are a slow reader).  I don't agree with her lifestyle, but you don't have to agree with it to find a person highly entertaining. I think we all know that by now. #obvs

I finished one of the books I was reading last month, and that was Every Wild Heart. I'm glad I read it, but I'm still of the mind that it was too slow.
I re-downloaded Librivox and I've been listening to Wuthering Heights. I've found that I only enjoy the classics as audiobooks. I'm not sure why. ;-)

I'm also reading My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman.
and it is a sometimes funny, but also at times, unfortunately, a snoozer... but I'm not done with it yet. Any words of wisdom from those who have read it? Yay? Nay? Keep going? Or no? I read A Man Called Ove {{and watched the movie with Stephen}}, and it was good, but fairly depressing. I think this one might be a good book, but not for me.

~The Kids Are Reading~

Molly has been doing chores for several months in order to save up for a Kids' edition Kindle Fire. She finally completed her many weeks of washing dishes (finally, finally!!), and then we made her wait until school was out, as long as she continued to be helpful around the house, and have a good attitude. (This is partly because the Kids' edition wasn't available until early June). So finally, after waiting for nearly three months, she saved up her chore money and got it!  She has hundreds of books at her access now.

She is a voracious reader!

I took the kiddos to the Library, and we would have checked out some more, if it were not for a few hang-ups.

~Watching~

Master of None

I heard about this show from Leigh's linkup last time via Sarah Denley's blog In the Warm Hold of Your Loving Mind. I binge-watched all of season 1-2 while our kids were at their grands.

This show was just about what I expected it to be. Pretty funny, a little lost, well-written, and hard to stop watching. Writer/actor/director Aziz Ansari has a talent, to be sure!!

The Office

This is an old favorite but something Stephen and I like to watch when we've been bored lately.  (We need another season of Portlandia to binge watch together!!) Fun to compare the British and American versions and figure out what we're doing wrong! :)

~Listening~

music:
JR JR, Joseph, Nickel Creek, Portugal the Man, The Lumineers, & The Avett Brothers (you have to check out the latter two on youtube, search for 'tiny desk concert'). So good!

podcasts:
SPITR
RAR podcast
What Should I Read Next
Happier

and that's ab-out it! Happy July! Woo to the hoot hoot! :)

We also got a fish. His name is Toulouse (Lautrec). The kids tried to rename him "Bella Gracie," but we think it kinda matters that he is a boy. :)  We agreed on Toulouse Bello Beck. (Molly's idea!)

~Linking~

Light in the Darkness: Christ in the Book of Job @ Catholic Exchange
I recently changed my medication from 200mg of anti-anxiety meds to 300mg, which my doctor said is the minimum amount in the therapeutic range.  My mental illness is my 'darkness,' and that's just me. :) The book of Job speaks to me. As a convert, I'm always trying to reconcile the Covenant theology I was born and raised into, and the stellar Catholic theology I have inherited.  This article weaves the Old and New Testament together, and it definitely made me think about the Redemption story in a clear, incredibly simple but powerful way!  Whenever I see the Covenant-tie-in, I know I'm in good company among Catholics!! Great article, really well-written, well-worth reading!

Baby Envy: The New Cultural Divide @ The Daily Mail
When someone gets extra defensive about not being pregnant yet, "Don't worry- not pregnant!" (x10) I wonder if maybe this is part of those strong feelings.  I think we Mamas spend too much time feeling bad. We all have a source of envy, stress, or frustration. The grass is greener on the other side of the fence. Live your own life, and I think some of that defensiveness should fade.

Trading Perfection for Redemption @ Catholic Mom (by the blessed Rakhi McCormick)
This spoke to me, and I think it will speak to you, too even if you're not a Catholic Mom. :)

Facebook Will Produce Own TV Shows Executives Reveal @ Sky News
This is so interesting! Now with facebook live, I totally believe this is where we're going!

23 Microwave Meals to Make When It's Too Hot To Cook @ Buzzfeed
Have you ever made cake in a mug? It's fun and fast and actually really delicious. This article takes that concept and runs with it, and I love the creativity it sparks!

~Eating~

Avocado Toast

Pancakes, lots of pancakes

~Memes~

 
My priest shared this meme (tweet?;-), and he also preached a homily about it!
I just love this quote... it is so true. *We* are not Jesus, *we* are the sinners!:)



~also FYI~
I have been transitioning my blog... I'm going to be doing less link-ups. I have been thinking about moving into this direction for a while now, and so I'm hoping we'll stay in touch without my blog falling into oblivion. I can only find out by doing a trial period, so here's hoping!;)  I re-did my about me page for the first time in like a century.  Like me on fb to stay in touch. ;)
linking up with Leigh

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

If You're Looking For Solid, Practical Theology, Look No Further Than...




here.

{insert ha ha, eye roll, and lol here}

I'm looking for a solid faith... but where do I go?

I'm not going to tell you I have the corner on the truth, because honestly, I don't.

I think that honor goes to gifted teachers like...:

Father Robert Barron

Scott Hahn

Peter Kreeft

and

R.C. Sproul

(maybe also the very gifted and wise Tim Keller)

There are so many!!! :)

I think one of the things that is hardest about parenting are the times when I am at a loss. It is when I come up short in knowing how to guide my children. Perhaps it is not having the correct answer when they ask me something, particularly theologically speaking. Perhaps it is the fact that my anger, selfishness, and arrogance are obviously setting a very bad example for the them, but I'm not quite sure how to go about correcting those things.

If you are looking for some tips to deepen your faith, and make your faith more practical, and to just plain help you live it, I'm here for my top ten.  Because, honestly, I've been wondering that same thing myself. And the answer isn't easy. It definitely isn't on a silver platter.  But... here's my attempt. :)

Top Ten Ways to Know You're on Solid Ground:

You know you're in good company when...

1. Your theology gives you peace.

If you struggle with insecurity or apathy in your faith, that should be a red flag or a warning sign to you. What's the point... if you don't have good answers to the tough questions? But even deeper in our hearts, if we are living unchanged lives, the faith we profess isn't able to bear enough weight in our day-to-day lives.

Acedia (sloth) can lead to depression. Obviously if you struggle with perpetual sadness, anger, or jealousy, you are getting some misinformation or you are being misguided somewhere. I start here because this resonates with my own experience. If I'm hearing wrong teaching- such as no absolute truth- it will lead to a breakdown in the home.  We need solid advice from teachers who are living a peaceful, prayerful life themselves!

2. Your theology causes you to love.

If you have solid teaching, but your arrogance so blinds you that you aren't reaching out to the people who need you the most (perhaps milennials and that crowd, who are looking for advice in the realm of sexuality, but don't seem to be getting any clear guidance as to how to live their faith practitcally during that phase of their life?)... then you have a hole in your theology that needs repair. Badly. ;-)

We absolutely need to be loving, at all times. But should we tolerate sin? No and no. Love never fails. :)

3. You are in line with the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit moves through people, writers, teachers, and theologians. God is at work, and as the world changes, our hearts and minds constantly seek renewal. This should be evident and at work in our churches. The Word of God is living and active, and so is God.

Do you depend on the Scriptures for guidance each and every day? If not, then something is amiss or awry.

4. You understand the Scriptures.

I included some non-Catholic theologians up above even though I am Catholic, because I think the Catholic church today needs a deeper understanding of the Scriptures.  No, you shouldn't be a Bible thumper. Honestly, it's intense, and it can come across as very intimidating to the younger set! But also, you can't live out your faith if you don't know who Noah is. You can't deepen your faith and watch it blossom and grow if you're not sure what the H the Davidic covenant is. haha. You won't desire to teach your children the Scriptures if you don't know how to explain the Abrahamic promise to them. :)

Knowing the Bible brings peace and clarity! Don't undermine or dismiss this doctrine: "The Scriptures are helping for teaching, reproving, and correcting in righteousness." After hearing this verse, Molly said "Mommy that means you have to correct in righteousness, too." (wow!!!!!!) aaaand that leads me to my next point.

5. You walk in humility.

If you're Catholic and you think you already know the Scriptures, you might fall into another error, and that's self-righteousness or know-it-all-ism.  Do you often correct in anger? May your arrogance come to a head, and may it all come crashing down.

For your own good of course. #nicerug

I am truly guilty of self-righteousness and arrogance. I fail my children. But I do depend on friends and family members to regularly bring me down from my pedestal. :)

6. You are growing.

If you're really seeking, then you see the fruit of faith. You regularly come into contact with that feeling, "I know what God may be/ is teaching me right now!"

That is an amazing feeling, my friends. And that is GROWTH. Because we can find community when we're really growing! :) Praise God!

7. You have clear guidance for the questions of your everyday life.

If you're regularly experiencing despair, depression, or just deep confusion, you probably have been given some misinformation.  Theological confusion can lead to depression. On many fronts... so many fronts. Despair might come because you see your own hypocrisy, but have no clue how to correct it.
In that case, pray.

8. You rely on Scripture daily.

Maybe you are not in despair, but you're...

lazy
lost
confused
slothful
depressed
acedia-ridden

I can guarantee that daily Bible reading and prayer will be the cure that ails you, in that case! Let's practice the presence of God. And in so doing, we can disagree on the finer points of faith, fine. But when we're living in prayer, it is hard to be so blind to the moving and leading of the whims of the Holy Spirit. Rely on Scripture and his voice (your conscience) reminding you and urging you to obey his Word! :) Every little step or mistep done in love or selfishness is witnessed and absorbed by our children. We can set an example one way or another!

9. Your prayer life is vivid, active, and full.

Just do it. Pray. Start somewhere. Start today. Start with a prayer of "Help." Anne Lamott says you need three prayers: "Help, Thanks, and Wow." That gives me chills because it is so true. We ask, we receive, and we give him all the credit/praise/glory. Beyond that, start with 15 hail marys or a decade of the rosary. Build up to the whole thing, like building up to a mile run.

10. You have community and that community is growing and thriving.

Do you have friends who you can carry out this verse with?
"Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed."
If not, then you're not living in "true" community. You have to have humility which heals the blindness of the blind and the lameness of the lame and the deafness of the deaf.

Don't try to hide from your sin or your mental illness. Without honesty, and brokenness, there are no true friends to be had. There is no true community to enjoy! I've been there, and it is a lonely place. Bitterness is a horrific cycle. Get out of the cave and find like-minded people.... in a support group, or a small group, or a Bible study.

Now, I'm going to say that if you have all of those things, most likely, you're headed to Heaven. If you're missing anything, pray about it.  Jesus is present in the Eucharist, and the Church Fathers' wisdom leads us to the keys of the Kingdom. Communion with him is real and personal.  If you claim the name of Christ and you're on shaky ground, now is the time to seek out the teachings of the true Church. :)  If you're living in communion with the Holy Spirit, have no fear. I'm thinking you're heading in the right direction and I honestly don't judge you for that. (Although I may wish that you come into the fullness of the faith!)  Keep growing and keep on humbly seeking him! May God bless you richly!!!

There is also something to be said for God's will for your life. I humbly accept that God has different paths for us, and we cannot grasp the depth of that truth this side of heaven! We will never completely grasp his plan for diversity on this earth, as earthly beings!


cross-posting with the ACWB

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Showing Off Summer Mom Gift Exchange~ and an announcement!





This is what I love about blogging. Exchanges, giveaways, new friends and all the fun that goes with that! :0)  Ok, guys. I lucked out *totally* with this gift exchange. I got to do the exchange with the incredibly fun Amanda Bullard, from the blog.... CCK (Cardio, Carb, and a Keyboard:)

She gets me (or she got me) with this package.

She got me a mug, beautiful notepads, (with a beautiful message), Audrey Hepburn OPI nail polish, lovely-smelling bodywash, and a very sweet and thoughtful note!
****

I absolutely love the mug "Choose Joy," and as I've been using it, I've been thinking about how a lot of times I really need this reminder. We Moms have so much to be thankful for; we shouldn't ever let bitterness, frustration, anger, or jealousy get us down!

I also want to say that she read my mind with this nail polish. I've been a HUGE Breakfast at Tiffany's fan for as long as I can remember, and I have also been looking for a new brand that doesn't peel off. AMANDA-- FOR THE WIN! go check her out! :) haha :^}

Thank you! - So so much!
and now... for-realz hop over to Amanda's blog to find out what I gifted her! :)

***
... fun! I get to announce the winner of the little giveaway I hosted a week ago on my blog.
And the winner is...
{scroll down}

Lindsay of the blog Lindsay's Sweet World.
Congrats!
I will be in touch with you lady! :)

Friday, June 23, 2017

Weekly Minutiae vol. 20 (!!!!)


Iiiiiiit's ba-ack!  Ok... yay! Yay, guys! I'm so excited about this, because I haven't done a WM post like this since Anders was a baby. Wow.  I've really missed it. As I was going through and reading old posts, I started to notice that I really "found my voice" while I was doing these posts. (Remember when I read Schmemman's For the Life of the World and quoted it up?! #bumpfeast lol) The fact that I stopped doing Weekly Minutiae is odd to me now, although I can see why I did back then, because they were "myself when I am real" more than any other type of post on this blog.

So I decided to harness that, and move forward with my blog from there.  The general trajectory of the posts is slightly to-be-determined, but it will probably be mainly more of the same-- what we did, silly things about the kiddos, bookish talk, and the like . And always, always, cute pics of my kiddos. Fun! I hope you'll join me.
#filters #fun ;-) ;-) ;-)

So onto this week's minutiae! (pronounced min-oo-shuh).



This routine is what's keeping us sane this Summer. And no, this isn't what I did yesterday, this is actually what I/we do everyday.  I started exercising again now that I'm nearly #6weekspostpartum. So hard to believe, I really thought the day would never come. ;-)

This is the kids' routine. The mastermind behind the screentime rules is the blessed Gina of Someday Saints. It has been keeping my kids in line and when I say this is working, *this is really working.* I love it.



I have to back up to Saturday,  because the girls returned home from camp in Nashville, and Molly and I talked about it.

Me: How was Young Scholars?
Molly: I made one friend named Amira.
Me: What did you take?

I took Color my world, is like a drawing class except it's like a crayon class, where you melt crayons and make really cool things... like new different colored crayons. Remember when we did that once? Ok, and Tuesday we made candles with melted crayons, and another day, we made play-doh with color from melted crayons!

I took Meet the American girls. We talked about Felicity's time and colored a picture. This time we made candles the  old-fashioned way by dipping a string into wax. On one of the days we had "proper day" ... we played a game where you eat cake, and whoever gets the bean hides a ring and we all look for it. We also learned a dance, kind of like do-si-do.

Me: that sounds REALLY fun. What else did you do or take?

Molly: One of the classes was called Snack Attack, where you make a really healthy snack, and then you eat it, and then after that, you make a smoothie out of fruits and vegetables, and on Friday we made a cookbook of all the things we made, and it was REALLY fun.


Frances' sculpture from Young Scholars


My other class was Drawing... and Drawing... is drawing. You just draw everyday. It is REALLY fun. On one day, I made a pin wheel. Frances did Clay Creations, so you should ask her about that.  (Frances also took some of the same classes as Molly!)

And that's all she wrote! ;-)  Thanks, Molly, for this recap from camp. 
(I asked her questions and wrote down what she said.... I'm a super really fast typer like dat ;-)  It sounds like they stayed incredibly busy everyday! ;-)

As for the rest of the week...
I kept the littles busy while the older two were at VBS. We had a Father's Day bonfire, which was a blast, and I took the kids around town- namely Aldi and the downtown library during morning hours.

As for bookish talk...

I'm really enjoying listening to Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (sister of the writer of Jane Eyre-->Charlotte).  I'm loving being back into Librivox, but I'm finding it a bit dreary, to be honest. But, I'll stick with it. I've tried reading it about 2-3 times in the past, and I always wanted to like it...  I think the audiobook might be the answer for me, in this case!



@ tacy williams beck. com



Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Crafting Our Way Through Summer (Art With Children)~ Wed.



We all know that boredom can be the bane of Summer, next only to the complaints we hear from our children when they're listless from said boredom!  I have been hustling to find good options to keep my girls busy on those dog days, which are sure to come!

As I have been putting together this post, I have really felt a pull to type into the Pinterest search engine "art" rather than "craft." I have been so pleased with what I have found. There may be no going back to "crafts," because art with kids is always so beautiful, and I'm much more likely to frame them than I would with crafts! For you, I have tried to corral the most Summery, beautiful crafts, and I hope to help you turn them into art that you might want to keep long term!!

The fun thing about doing a week of crafts is that you can add a little "special snack" and it feels like camp!

I set up stations for the kids, so that they can get working on one craft and that way, take turns sharing the materials.  We had one station for the "Craft of the day," and three other stations, which included coloring books, stickers, art pad + markers and other coloring materials.

You could also do a "cutting station" and a "gluing station." Another way would be to do multiple crafts on one day, and each station has the materials for one craft. That way, they're not all begging for the glue at the same time! ;-)

Here are our artistic pursuits for the week:

Monday: Sun Craft (art)

For this project, we turned to watercolor paintbrushes, such as these.

Tuesday: Sandcastle Craft

For this, all that is needed is glue and sand!

Wednesday: Watermelon art

For our watermelon craft, you'll need shaving cream, food coloring, and glue.

Thursday: Ice-cream craft

All that is needed is tissue paper and glue!

Friday: Camping craft

For this, you will need construction paper, gluing material, and perhaps stickers, markers, and mixed media.


Here are our snack ideas: (I did not link to each snack, but if you're interested in the photos above, you can look them up using these key words in the Pinterest search engine):

Monday: teddy bear jello pool

Tuesday: Under the sea graham crackers

Wednesday: rainbow fruit cup or....

these! i wont judge...


Thursday: ice-cream cones

Friday: s'mores (to go with the camping craft!!)

Now, if you're still bored... there is a great youtube channel that I suggest you subscribe to, called Katie Knutson.  She's an amazing art teacher who does art tutorials!  These are pretty easy, you don't need a lot of extra special materials, and her teaching is clear and easy to follow! Check it out:)
happy happy ;-)

I hope this post inspires you to organize your own Summer Art Camp! Have fun!!!!! ;-) Now, definitely go check out the other gals who have posts up about Summer:

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Giveaway time!

Hey friends! Today I'm so excited to tell you about a fun summer giveaway I'm hosting here on my website. I have two books for you today, and I want to put *you* in the running to receive these on your doorstep!

All you need to do in order to win is to follow me, then come back and tell me in the comments.




Here's the full rundown:
-Like me on any social media channels
-That could be instagram, twitter, or facebook (and let's be real, does anyone actually use googleplus? Didn't think so.)
-You can like me on googleplus if you want to (ha, ha)
-See my blue social media buttons for easy access and follow--->
-Come back here and leave me a comment, telling me you did so
-You will be entered to win!


Easy as pie.

Now, what is in the giveaway, you ask?
-A Mother's Rule of Life by Holly Pierlot
&
-The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery
-A Mother's Rule of Life is one of the best books I have ever read, especially when it comes to homemaking with kids. Pierlot is a homeschooling mother, and she discusses her way of adopting a "rule," much like the orders of monasteries and convents.  She follows her little rule of prayer, and she integrates that into her mothering and homemaking. It's brilliant, really! If you know me, then you know I *love* giving away my favorite books. This is definitely one of those, which means I'll be buying this one again! ;-)

-The Blue Castle would be the perfect nightstand Summer reading. It is clever, beautifully written, and it comes to you from the same author as Anne of Green Gables. I love it. Can't go wrong!

If you already follow me on social media, you can still participate in this giveaway! Like me on another social media channel. If you already follow all of my channels, just let me know in the comments, and you will also be entered to win. If you aren't interested in the books, you can still like or follow me all over on social media! I hope we stay in touch my friends!! :-) ;-)

And I hope you get the goods! ;-)

Friday, June 16, 2017

I Talked To A Priest About Marriage... Here's What He Said



1. complimentarity of the sexes

2. showing light to our children

3. being humble about yelling/anger and not lying

4. forgiveness everyday

5. be careful how you witness

6. divorce, annullment, and everything in between

7. clinging to hope and peace

I hope that helps

More information can be found by reading John Paul II's Theology of the Body.

#hopeandpeace
#always

~by the way, as I mentioned on Tuesday of this week, I'll be retiring from link-ups starting next Tuesday. Please join me by liking my facebook page and you'll be entered to win my big giveaway! **More details on next Tuesday's post**
linking with Kelly

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A Couple of Announcements~ Mostly Blog Related!




Today, I just have a couple of Announcements -- (some of the important variety, some not really at all)

--We decided ballet was worth the financial sacrifice. The company our girls dance with is fantastic. We don't have to worry about dances being tasteless, and even beyond that, the caliber of the dancing is absolutely top-notch. #thankful

--I have decided that I will not longer be participating in (any?) link-ups.*

Explanation: I have wanted to move my blog in this direction for YEARS.  I have added my blog to link-ups to improve community, interaction, and pageviews.  It worked.  But now, I'm going to experiment with not adding my links to parties, and see how it goes for a temporary amount of  time.

Further reasoning: Upon viewing my stats, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that *most* of my hits were coming from Google. Second after that was facebook.

I feel like my creative energy is stifled by link-ups. I want to do my own thing more often (most of the time) and for now, this is the best way to move in that direction.

The search for more pageviews can be frenetic.  It is a frantic, frenzied desire for always more. The only way that I see out of it is to participate in far less link-ups.

One thing that's exciting about all of this is that I know who my audience (really) is now. I have readers who have kept with me from various communities I've participated in online. 

me with my family- all except my sister (+family) on the West coast 

Recently someone asked if I've done any guest posts, and the truth is-- all of my posts are "guest posts" in a certain sense. My readership has carried over from Catholic Mom and Real Housekeeping days. I have friends online from Catholic Mommy, and the Association of Catholic Women Bloggers. The fact that I built readership from those communities and more means that I'm still "writing for them," in a very real sense.

Building a readership is one of the most rewarding aspects of blogging. Making friends online and establishing yourself as a trusted voice in the blogosphere is a good feeling.  This past week, my article on The Industrialization of Birth got several shares and it sparked a conversation on Facebook with a lot of interaction. I regularly see hundreds visit my site every single day.  This is what I love to do, and this is what I am called to do. I absolutely love writing and I feel most happy when I'm using that talent and seeking God's glory with it.

And that's why I feel like it's time to strike out on my own.  If you're here, reading, I'm writing for you.

I'm proud of my blog, this little space on the internets.  I *love* my readers, and I'm passionate about what I've built here.

 Why do you come here if you are a regular "Google reader"? I hope you have found these things here:
~ a person who is vulnerable about the intersection between faith, family, books and culture
~a trusted, friendly voice speaking into today's difficult-to-weather culture
~sister-to-sister friendly (again!) advice for everyday challenges and difficulties
~an upbeat and even joyful approach to everyday life
~attention-to-detail parenting, spirituality, health, and everyday personal development
~open and honest discussion of mental health issues
~high-standards wisdom and relatable (not condemning or didactic) trustworthiness

Above all, I seek to stay positive (at all times), be honest (at all times!) and give you open advice about the thing I struggle with, too. Just like you, I am a broken vessel seeking to make good choices everyday. I'm seeking to do God's will well.

If you read my blog through a link party, the best way to stay in contact with me is to like my facebook page There have been several blogs over the years that I *Loved* reading, but because I was lazy and didn't subscribe, I lost track of them and their blog sank into the oblivion that is online reading. Don't let that happen to *us*! 

If you want, take a minute today to comment and let me know you read my blog.

I would love to hear from you! 

*Just FYI, there will be some exceptions.  I may still participate in the occasional link-up. However, it will no longer be my modus operandi.
**more info on the babies in the picture on instagram

My last announcement is that next Tuesday, in honor of the new direction of my website, I will be giving away a fun door prize of items. Please come back or subscribe, so that you don't miss it!

What do you think about link-ups? Yes, no, maybe, or sometimes? All the time, as many as you can find? Why or why not?
linking up with tuesday talk!

Friday, June 9, 2017

7 Things You Need For Your Make-up Bag



It doesn't matter where you're going... date night, mass or Church, the Post Office, or the Grocery Store. In a pinch, it's great to grab your to-go make-up and toss it in your purse or bring it with you to the car. Recently, I decided to clean out/purge my old make-up bag, and get a new one.When I had Conrad, when getting ready to pack for the hospital,  I suddenly realized that it had been about (no lie) fifteen years since I had gotten a new make-up bag. 

I love the one I wound up with. It was inexpensive (actually very, very cheap), it opens wide so I can see everything in it, and it is a pretty purple color.  The fact that I can see what's in it is what sold it for me. I love me some transparency! ;-)

While I was re-stocking some things in the bag, I thought about the things that I just cannot live without, so I thought it would be fun to share those with you here.  (I recently heard on the radio that some women spend upwards of $15,000 dollars in their lifetimes on beauty products. I'm not sure how much that turns out to be per year, but that sounds way too high to me!)

1. Face lotion~ I've talked about it before, and I'll (I'm sure) talk about it again, but I love Oil of Olay Complete lotion, with the tiny SPF 10. haha. Ok it's not sunscreen. Fine.

2. Mascara~ I tried to stray away, but I just had to come back to Great Lash mascara by Maybelline. It's the best mascara I've tried, and it is so affordable why would I go with something stupid expensive when I know this works?!

3. Powder~ I am on a cheaper brand kick after just having a baby, so I'm back to the tried and true (and gold star!) Covergirl clean powder in natural, yeah baby yes ma'am. ;-)

4. Blush~ Right now I'm using an old compact that has lasted me quite a while ... I think it is ELF but I'm not sure. I had heard or read somewhere (I think online from an article I found on Pinterest) that this is one of the better drugstore brands (T/F? school me yes please;) so I tried it and I've been pretty happy with it. ;-)

5. Chapstick and 2 tubes of lipstick.

I don't need much in the way of options because I pretty much wear the same thing on my lips everyday.  I have also been on a huge kick with L'Oreal Golden Splendor for lipstick. I keep a red wine color from L'Oreal for when I'm feeling fancy! (Which is almost never lol).  I recently decided to try the Chapstick (namebrand) in Pink Grapefruit and I love it cuz dats my favorite scent for most things. mmhmm. 

6. Nail clippers

As you can see from the picture, I couldn't find them in my bag. But because I'm nauseatingly organized (JOKE!), they shall turn up soon. ha. I find it saves me money to do my own nails, although I will admit that they don't always look perfect. *

7. Tweezers

I tweeze my eyebrows on the regular, so HOW COULD I LIVE without some tweezers in my make-up bag?!  ?!

That's it for me... what about you?! It seems that if you add up hair, make-up, and nails, it would be easy to spend a >>small fortune<< on beauty. I don't do monthly subscriptions because I have to budget for my personal needs, be it a haircut or AHEM one new nail polish! #one #lol

*While out shopping for Conrad at Old Navy, someone complimented me for having time to do my nails after just having a baby. Proudly, I walked away.  Then alas that beautiful color she was referring to-- "there's no place like chrome"-- peeled off within a day. Even with a top coat.  I tried it without too. If someone can help me deal with what to do when my FAVORITE color peels off in two seconds Ahhhhh!!!!!

#twoseconds
#dorothy
#chrome
#noplacelikehome

linking with Kelly

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Industrialization of Birth




Health has come a long way in the past century.  We know so much more now about germs, bacteria, and disease than we did even fifty years ago, and I think we can say safely that medicine has become a whole new world. I think for the most part, this is a very good thing. But, honestly, if we want people to genuinely get on board with green sex and openness to life, the protocol for childbearing needs to change.

It goes without saying,  that yes it's true, I have some serious complaints about the process of birth today, particularly as it happens #asperusual.  It makes me truly sad to think that a person who doesn't know better will become a cog in the wheel. Unnecessary procedures are the result of a lack of knowledge. Mistakes are always the result of laziness and incompetence. When I look at my son's umbilical cord clip I think "Is this the stone ages?" Why did anyone decide that type of clip was a good idea? (The thing is as big as his entire belly).

And stone ages it is when I think about the business of birth.  I had 5 of my 6 kids in a hospital, 1 at home, and I had a midwife with one, a doula with one, natural birth 4/6 times, and epidural 2/6 times. (So good at fractions!) I've had a cross-section of birth experiences.  I wrote about which birth would be right for you in this post,  (remember the time when a doctor made me hurry my labor because he had to make it to a baseball game?!) but after my last birth, I have a few different musings on the whole industrialization philosophy.  As the tide changes in health care today, there is also a shift in the world of faith.  We're hobbling along, half in the world of medicine, half in the world of holistic health care. We need to hit a stride, and I have a feeling it has to do with technology catching up with what we know about medicine. 

Let's take childbirth as the EG: Pro's of hospitalized birth:

-efficiency
-maximizes time/work balance
-less inconvenience for the professional
-access to supplies and needed medicines
-state of the art (and sometimes excessive) use of technology 

I actually love a lot about having babies in the hospital. I love the supplies and the meals that you get. The food at our hospital is actually really good. Many of the nurses are very kind and patient. Many of them are competent and hard working. (Not all).  The system is (mostly) reliable because of working hardware. ;-)

Con's of hospitalized birth:

-less personal
-less meaningful time spent with patients
-no bond is formed (oftentimes)
-improper procedures
-red tape
-unnecessary procedures

Nurses are not necessarily doulas. When I was in labor, I had to ask repeatedly for ice chips and when I finally begged them, I got a popsicle.  The professionals were only in the labor room with me for a handful of minutes. No one was "waiting on me" by any stretch of the imagination. I told Stephen, "If I had a midwife, she would have asked me several times by now - already- if I needed anything." No birthing ball was offered. No one checked me until I asked.  No one said anything about being effaced or engaged until I specifically asked them about it.  The "system" at my hospital was being changed, meaning they were getting new software updates. In process, they lost my entire chart and the staff didn't know how many weeks I was, my medical history, or anything, really.

On top of that, Doctors are not midwives. When the doctor finally came to talk to us, it wasn't about how I was feeling- it was about how we needed to decide whether or not we wanted the epidural. We asked for "a couple of minutes to think about it" and he came back an hour later.  It may seem efficient, but if you're too busy for me, what are you doing while you're gone? Are you too busy for all of your patients because you're distracted by the sheer number of issues and patients you have piled on your plate?  If you aren't giving me your full attention (ever) then who are you giving your full attention to?  Is technology a mere hindrance or distraction?

And, seriously: where is the full attention given? My guess is they're giving their full attention to the women giving birth and the women in labor are brushed off. And they're probably getting tongue-tied by systems and protocol (whether technological or not). But doctor, you let me down at the time I needed you most.  And that's not ok.

I was in pain.
I was scared.
I was strapped in bed, being monitored.
I didn't feel empowered.
I didn't feel empathy.
I felt that my dignity was being stripped from me, rather than given to me.

Having experienced a homebirth with a competent midwife, I can say with confidence: It is no wonder so many people want to stop having babies ASAP.  

It is better. 

With all of the variables and complications, and even though every birth is different, I still believe that having a midwife is better than not.  I still believe my best birth was my homebirth. I was empowered by movement, position, nourishment, and 100% supportive care. I still believe that love and attention will always win and will be more important and powerful than efficiency, time, and medication.  My second "favorite" birth experience was the one with the doula! The process was never undervalued. I never felt pressured into a certain process. And guess what?! The process is the thing.

Now that birth is an industry, we have to get better at this process so that it doesn't feel like an industry. In order to do this, I personally believe that all doctors and nurses should try to get better at bedside manner. Obviously hospitalized birth is going nowhere. ;) Women should be empowered and given dignity!  The nurses should seek to be competent and thorough! Continue reading and sharpening your skills and knowledge! A woman laboring is a woman who needs the support and the energetic assistance of those who have promised (and are being paid) to support her. A woman giving birth isn't a laundry list of to-dos. She is a woman who needs you, your attention, your care. She needs you to be patient, helpful, and kind.

I know one thing is for sure: a competent midwife is a person who has a passion for birth.  A lazy nurse going through the motions does not demonstrate one ounce of passion. I have experienced this passion first-hand and it is the NUMBER ONE reason why my homebirth experience was my best experience.*  I can't promise that you'll form a bond with your doctors or nurses. But at least promise me that whoever is on call will be fully present and totally kind.

Get top notch support and help when you need it most. It matters. Birth doesn't have to be scary.  The process of birth should be understood, not feared.

Much like raising babies! 

;-)

What do *you* think? What has your experience been? Do you think that hospitalized birth can be the best option? Why? Why not?


linking up with Tuesday Talk

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Monthly Recap vol. 43 ~ May 2017

How did I get so lucky?!
#allmydreamscometrue #really #noreally

~Lately~

It has warmed up here and it already feels like Summer. #hothothot  May always holds out and true to form, the beginning of May had some perfect, mild days, and the second half had some brutal and hot days, but not many. And of course, a lot of rain. #southernliving

Conrad Eugene was born 3 hours into his due date, on May 13th.  It has been such a joy to meet our second son and see him folded into the fabric of our family. The kids have been overjoyed since he came home from the hospital. I do not exaggerate a bit when I say they are washing their hands a bazillion times and asking to hold him all.the.time. He is a sweet baby, and it has been magical to experience the having of a second son and bro for the kids.

Other than a baby brother being born, we've had the onslaught of end-of-the-year busyness and to be honest, I don't handle it too well.  The homework, projects, recitals, and celebrations not to mention doctors, parties, and LIFE.LIFE.LIFE is allllmost too much for this Mama to bear.

Because of his birth, I've tried to take it easy on all {what i'm into} fronts so this recap might end up being short.

~Reading~

The Hypnotist's Love Story by Liane Moriarty

I needed something absorbing to read while waiting for baby Conrad to show up.  This fine Moriarty novel fit the bill. Honestly as I got into it, a hypnotist and a stalker were two subjects I highly doubted enjoying or being interested in. But true to form and just like her other novels, Moriarty delivered an absorbing, interesting tale with extremely lovable characters and a twisty, fun plot.  With a satisfying ending. #hurray #thankfulforherbooks

As soon as it came out, on May 17th, I quickly hopped on the 2017 Summer Reading Guide from MMD, and downloaded the two books that sounded irresistible to me.  And they are: This is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel and Every Wild Heart by Meg Donohue. Having them on Kindle has been really nice. It's so much easier to read on my Kindle while nursing than trying to balance a bookmark, page flipping, and the awkwardness of where to put a flappy book. ;-) The former super-stressed me out with its agenda, so I abandoned it wholeheartedly. The latter is a fictionalized account of the behind-the-scenes of the radio show Delilah... and while it has been a nice read, I'm finding it a bit mediocre, to be honest. I think the hype is a little out of control, at this point. #overrated  Trying to get into Hemingwaay.... #arewegettingtiredofthisyet #raiseshand ;-)


~Watching~

I tried watching "Big Little Lies" and "Anne With an E" and found myself incredibly disappointed. The former was over-dramatized- and too edgy- I thought when compared with the feel of the book. They romanticized it and creeped it up way too much. (Is that an HBO thing?) And speaking of creepy Anne with an E just needs to go away. Far, far away.  So..... naturally I did what all true children of the 80's would do and scratched my nostalgia itch... and I just went ahead and watched all of "Fuller House" season 2. If you watched that show back in the day, I recommend that cheesy reunion show. It made me laugh.  No, it's not great art or anything high class or edgy... no it won't blow you away with genius humor or brilliant acting... and yes I'm embarassed to admit it, but?  It will fulfill the desires of your heart if you're looking for comfort-watching. At first I thought season 2 was going to be worse than season 1, but I think I was wrong. ;-)  I totally got into it!

I hope the Netflix-watching options are better in June. Although, I hope even more that it's so beautiful outside that we won't need a whole lot of amazing options, screen-wise.  It might be mercilessly, ruthlessly, savagely hot.... we'll see. #probably But just when you thought hope was lost, 3rd season of Kimmy Schmidt coming...!!! #hurray

~Memes~

laughing and crying


#deep #schooldaze #kimmyschmidt



~Linking~

Pope Francis: Fatima Calls us to Care for the Faith of Children

a good reminder... I was very glad I read this!

Fidget Spinners: Are They Good?

this piece totally cracked me up.. worth clicking if you want to LOL.

My Morning Routine @ Whitney's youtube channel Come Home For Comfort

super inspiring and peaceful! defffff-initely worth a watch if you need inspiration!;) I revamped my own daily routines after watching this video!

~Funny Things They Say~

{After Annabel tripped on the vaccum}
Stephen: Proof that you should never clean.

Anders {handing me an empty cup of ginger ale} : I drank all my caffeine!

Madeleine: Did they cut you open to get the baby or did he come out the trapdoor? (where did she get this idea? I have no clue!}

Madeleine {to her Grammy}: Conrad has two problems. Spit-ups and dry skin.

Molly: Do you know what my biggest fear is?
Me: What? (expecting the worst)
Molly: Body parts turning into something else.
Me: Like the nose turning into a sausage in Tom Thumb (her most hated movie as a toddler because of that one scene)?
Molly: Yes. And when Violet turns into a blueberry.
(I wish that was my biggest fear, lol :-)

Stephen: Have we had a baby that *didn't* have my hairline?
{touche}

LOLOL

~Writing~

Let's Talk About *Mental* Health and Wellness
Hiding anxiety/depression/disorder?  Let's get it out in the open so mental illness doesn't have a chance.;) here I talk openly about my own struggles in the effort to help others who may be fighting a private battle. :-)

Conrad Eugene's Birth Story ~ Assume Nothing
so many unexpected things happened... if you like birth stories, check this out.

Happy Summer! Bring on the June yipee!

Linking up with Leigh