Friday, April 6, 2018

Seven Quick Takes, bb



Hi, Kelly!

{one}

That's it. I need to do some quick takes. I am fiercely loyal to Seven Quick Takes and I wish I could do them every week. It's also beens so long since I've blogged that I feel like I should have a grand post here instead of just ramblings, but too bad, I can't wait any longer for real inspiration to strike! Seven Quick Takes needs me!

{two}

Guys, I know I complain about the weather. A lot. I mean, it's somewhat of a hobby at this point. But I sincerely wish to revoke all previous complaints so I can allocate them to this truly, terrible, God-forsaken "spring" we're having. We've honestly had probably 3 days of real melting. It was -27 when my husband went to work this morning on April 6. There is still a good three feet of iced, blown over,  crackling banks of snow in the fields with no bare ground even visible! And it would be almost tolerable if the long term forecast had predicted temperatures above 10 degrees in the next two weeks, but no, we're going to be lucky if it gets above freezing and we'll probably have more snow. It's just too much. Shoot me now!

{three}

March seemed to go by in a flurry of different things this year. I was working on various projects that had to get done, we had birthday parties, Holy Week, I did a modicum of spring cleaning because I truly haven't cleaned much all winter, and we started painting our main floor. It went by quickly which was good because....the weather!

{four}

I got shamelessly sucked into the new cult documentary series on Netflix called Wild Wild Country this week. I almost appreciate the wackiness of the cult more than the production value of the documentary, but the filmmaking is just really good. Cults are crazy, but endlessly fascinating. It's just really a blatant example of how humans are religious creatures who honestly can worship pretty much anything. We always think the Israelites in the desert were so dumb for worshiping that golden bull, but cults...they don't have a lot of substance for the amount of worship they illicit either.

{five}

I've also been trying to catch up on my reading because March sucked up all my reading time, but I still somehow managed to start new books so I'm reading approximately 6 books right now. That's too much even for me. I feel like I need about 4 solid days of reading to get things under control! Not that 4 straight days of reading is a remote possibility or anything...

{six}






Easter this year was a lot of fun even if it was under a lot of snow and colder than Christmas was this past year. I remember that Easter and holidays in general really used to stress me out for some reason. I just always was worried I wasn't doing things the right way, and wondered if all the extended family thought they were getting their time, and if my kids were going to be happy with what was in their Easter baskets, and were we doing enough traditions and going to enough liturgies and did I make enough desserts! It just felt like so much and it felt so important because it was a special holiday and I felt stressed about the whole thing. Which isn't really like me to be stressed out about non-life-threatening issues, but it just did! But the past couple years, maybe having bigger kids, have just felt easier and much more relaxing. I do really hate change and really love routine, so now that we've got more holiday rhythms things seem so much easier. 

{seven}

This Easter week has been hard to get back into the swing of things. I'm fairly confident it's a symptom of extreme cabin fever and the fact we've been around each other in close confines without the ability to just get outside in so long, but it has been a struggle. Just my lack of patience and frustration with what seems like the endless repeating of the same things every. single. day. can get me down. I know it's a part of motherhood, but a very big part of me just wishes for that breakthrough where kids just got through that somehow huge hurdle where they could just GET stuff without me repeating it day in, day out ad nauseam. It's a motherhood struggle. Here's hoping for a relaxing weekend! 







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Monday, February 19, 2018

The February Post





Oh, February.

A time for questioning. A time for contemplation.

Like questioning why I don't work full time. Why I continue to live in the actual boonies. Why people ever settled in this winter wasteland. You know, just the little questions.

Because February is rough.

I can't speak for you, but for some reason, be it the weeks on end of extreme cold, the tiny house I live in with my own offspring who in their own right are irritable and frustrated at constant confinement, and the always being around said offspring with the homeschooling business, February seems ridiculously hard.

It probably isn't the hardest winter I've experienced, but it does feel eternal when the temperatures haven't felt above -10C for the complete calendar month. It's sorta like a marathon of days after days looking the same, feeling the same, and people getting more and more on your nerves. A mental olympics for which there is no winner!

The perspective is that it does eventually end. Even though I can't realistically imagine it. It would be really nice if it ends by Easter...but I can't get my hopes up because we had snow for all of April last year...and I'm still feeling the effects/traumatized!

Difficult seasons for me can take on a very literal meaning. It is hard to keep going and plugging along when you know there is not quick fix in sight. There's no way of rushing spring or cold weather along. And that all goes exactly contrary to the very human desire to hurry the bad stuff up and stop languishing in the hard.

I'm getting older and maybe a bit better at realizing that we don't have to fix things or rush things or conquer difficult seasons. Firstly, because it's usually completely out of our control, but also because it's a part of life. Our human powers can't make things completely easy just be willing it enough or working hard enough. Difficult seasons are simply a fact.

Which isn't to say we can't get better at dealing with the difficult, at offering up our suffering, at changing our attitudes to embrace the hard. But that doesn't change that the hard is there and to be lived. It's just that slice of life we wish we could shrug off, which our culture and every social media channel tells us we need to ignore and/or conquer with positive thinking.

Difficult seasons happen. Our lives are composed of difficult and easier seasons and we've got to hold on to the fact that even in those difficult times when we feel bleak and frozen that we're still alive underneath it all. And hopefully will come back to life again in the spring.







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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

My best piece of self-care advice





I've got some words to say about self-care. And quite possibly my number one tip when it comes to self-care. The number one, easiest, most impactful piece of advice! My life changing piece of advice. Because I think we tend to talk about "self-care" as some vague term that means only big things and not simple daily practices that better our mental health. I want to stick to the simple and practical. But first, walk with me back in time. (insert wavy lines across the screen now)

I had 5 kids in less than six years. I had a brief couple months in between all five where I wasn't pregnant and/or nursing. There were constant diapers, bottles, naps, diapers, messes, and diapers. It was a constant barrage of needs to be met and lots of crying from kids and myself. Those days are really blurry and as difficult as they were, I really learnt a heck of a lot about myself and my husband in those difficult times. I had patches of postpartum depression and anxiety, and at times felt positively drowning and that my life would only and forever be overwhelming. It's not a great mental space. But this is what happens when human beings are in stressful situations, and raising five mini-humans is a stressful situation.

Because our life felt like it was hurtling along at 100 mph with babies coming every year my husband and I talked about our mental health often, if only to check in to make sure our heads were above water. But we learned very quickly that neither of us could handle the stress by ourselves, without talking it through with each other, and asking for support from each other. A couple of kids in when I felt like all I did was change diapers, feed, and soothe babies my husband realized that for the sake of my sanity we had to plan time for me to get out of the house. He realized the need and firmly told me that was what was happening even when I made excuse after excuse about babies needing me and being exhausted. So I would leave the house every week if I could for an afternoon, and sometimes every two weeks, but it was a standing thing that had to happen. Because it happened and I made it through a stressful, and very demanding time without completely losing my mind or myself.

It wasn't every day, it was every so often, sometimes for longer, sometimes for shorter. But I'm telling you, getting time for yourself is the biggest and best thing you can do for your mental health. Right now. Today. No matter what season you're in.

We've all been in times of survival mode where self care can't happen for whatever reason, but the first step to getting out of survival mode is to carve time for yourself to be alone. You can't get a mental break when someone is asking for something every five minutes. You don't recharge your own batteries by hiding in the bathroom while the kids watch Paw Patrol. You can't realize what would truly be live giving self-care if you don't even have time to realize what you personally need because you're always on baby duty.

Sometimes you don't know how much you need time alone if you've gone too long without it. 

If you're feeling at lose ends, like you don't know how to fix issues with your marriage or family or how to reignite the passions you had prior to having kids, it may be because you never have time alone to even fully ruminate on these very important things. Having that time for yourself creates space where you can begin to figure these things out. It allows you to listen to what your own needs might be, how to best meet them, what areas of your life need work and addressing, and maybe more opportunities to look at your life a bit more objectively rather than in the emotional throes of witching hour when the whole world feels like it's falling down around you.

I know some moms feel that in order to be a "super mom" or even a "good mom" that that means being available to their children all. the. time. But would we ask any other person of any other profession or vocation to never have time alone? Would we ask our parish priest to not even take an hour out of his daily schedule for himself? Do we think that people who work full time should come home from dinner and immediately get back to work with only intermittent breaks for sleep during the night? Then why as moms who are truly working 24/7, being completely emotionally and physically available to their babies and children think that they don't need time alone? We need to recognize that that mindset is deeply unhealthy and detrimental not only to our own mental health, but to our children, to our marriage, to the way we live our lives.

I want this advice to be simple. Find alone time for yourself. It may be before the kids wake up if you have an extremely active lifestyle or are blessed to be a morning person. It may be when kids nap simultaneously. It may be after your husband gets home from work before the kids go to bed. It may be after the kids go to bed. Find what time best works for you and your family. If your husband really and truly can't give you half an hour to an hour kid free because he's superman or some equivalent, don't feel guilty about asking for some babysitting time from family and friends, or just a regular ol' paid one, and spending that time not on errands and grocery shopping, but yourself. (Unless grocery shopping is deeply restoring for you, in which case you're probably a hero who doesn't need any of my advice!)

Also, this time you spend alone has to be spent doing what you want. Not what you need to do, not what you "should" do. Spend it blissfully bingeing The Crown. Spend it with a book. Spend it running or taking a gym class. Spend it alone at a coffee shop with tea, or strolling the aisles of Target. Don't forget to give yourself the gift of going out for lunch by yourself - that can change your damn life!

It can be out of the home or can be in your home. Just make it uninterrupted time, alone. It doesn't have to happen every day, but it does have to happen consistently and as often as possible. I think the most important step in trying to make big life changes like crawling out of survival mode begins with committing to small changes in our routine. Especially as moms, I think one of the biggest aspects of our lives for better or worse is our routines and how we utilize them. We aren't out of control of our lives just because we have small kids, we're still in control but change comes in little steps.

Just humour me if you don't think this one step will change your life. Commit to it for a week or two and see if you notice changes in how you feel, in how you think, in how happy you are. Let me be your life coach!





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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Living off the grid - time wise








I've been thinking lately how my daily routine as an at home mom has changed over the years. And it has changed a lot over the years but at the same time it hasn't. I sometimes have deep questioning thoughts if I'm a truly boring person who abhors change, or if I'm using routine because that's life with a bunch of kids.

I think I question because, frankly, I live really oddly. Living in a rural area and homeschooling means I don't actually even see a town some days. I don't have to get kids to school, I don't have to pick them up. I don't run errands, I don't hop in the car to grab coffee or see people. Which I'm sure makes me seem like a complete anti-social hermit. I get out of my house by walking down the road every day I don't go to town/the city to see my parents.

My schedule isn't made by anything outside of my own home and mostly, me. I'm the boss of me! I decide when I get up, when my kids get up, when school and sit down work gets done, what activities we go to and when, and usually when choosing these things they fit into my general routine. As in we focus on school most every morning barring a weird doctors appointment, make most activities fit into afternoons, and if not we have the flexibility to work other things around to make the things that don't fit perfectly work. I choose how to spend my time after I've dealt with school and kids. I decide when to cook and eat dinner. There are short periods of time where things get disrupted for one thing or another and I can feel the difference and stress it creates. I feel maxed out and rushed, but at the same time very unproductive.

Obviously I'm only speaking for me and my own weird existence, but whether it's from living this way for so long or not, I feel like I would really not enjoy living according to outside schedules. I mean, I would have to adapt, and I know I could do it, but I really don't want to! And I mean this in a very general way, because we all have appointments, and Mass, and activities, and meetings and lots of things that we have to show up for at certain times, but not having the daily rhythm of my day determined by outside factors is pretty swell.

But that's so odd! I'm so weird! It's so distinctly un-modern and uncommon. As a society we're so used to being told what to do, where to go, and when to be there. Which happens for very important reasons, but have we thought about the overreach of them all in our lives that much? Do we ever question "school" and work and the myriad of things we think we have to do? We really do have control over our own time.

I think I partly took to routine and making sure I'm making choices of how and when I fit all the things of life into my day because I had a bunch of babies in a short amount of time! Babies and their routines make you figure out that there should be a routine to your day, that you function better if you sleep, eat, and play on a regular schedule. As an adult this is still true. And as the adult of a bunch of babies, your way of survival is to get all babies on the same routine as to not lose your mind completely. As the fiftieth caveat of this short post; of course my babies weren't perfectly scheduled every day of their life, but the general rhythm of routine in our days was something that over time I learned really helped everyone including myself. Knowing that most days I'd have nap times to get a little time for myself was hugely relieving. Knowing that when babies woke up, I would nurse, then they would play put in perspective that their needs needed to be met before mine. And the list goes on and on.

I would never tell anyone to live as weirdly as I do. But I do think that intentionally looking at how we spend our time and how to use it valuably for ourselves; what we want to spend our time on, instead of the other way around and being forced to live in the leftovers of time the outside world dictates, can change our perspectives on how we're living our lives.





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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Hello 2018



Photo by Sam Beasley on Unsplash


I'm alive, but Blogger doesn't know it and asked me for my password. Which felt so uncomfortable. Like seeing an old high school acquaintance in a crowded bar, you should know them and they should know you, but you both don't really want to dredge up ancient history.

Thankfully, Google, unlike deadbeat high school friends, remembers your password, or at least resends it to you when you forget.

I feel like I forget how to blog to be quite honest. Which also feels kinda crumby because I think I used to be good at it. I definitely have always enjoyed it. And somehow in all the busy-ness I've let this drop which was not intentional. I am definitely a creature of habit so once I was out of the habit of blogging it seemed so impossible to pick up again. I've never had a sole purpose to the blog other than it for me to be an outlet to post whatever I want, whenever I want. I'm not a good documenter of everything my family does, and I hope my children's memories suffice. In these post-blog days we're not really defined by "niche" or "audience" or "sponsorships" much. Which is all alright for me, because I really just enjoy the practice of writing, the exchange of thoughts and lives of other women online. You're all a treasure for reading!

I've been busy elsewhere doing fun, creative "work" that really brings me life that I'm so grateful for. I love podcasting. I love writing and contributing to Blessed is She. They've both been richly rewarding for the amount of time I put in, which at times is definitely not as much as I wish I could put it.

But 2018, I'm going to blog. It might not be often, or earth-shattering, or well-curated, but dang it, it's going to be published. And if that's not a rousing endorsement to follow the heck out of this space, then you're a far more discerning reader than I!




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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Blessed is She Blessed Conversations Study Guides







I'm so excited to share with you a project I worked on a few months ago with the lovely Blessed is She team - the Blessed Conversations study guides. These guides are short, but deep dives into the Catechism on various topics of the Faith that are meant to bring you and your small group, large group, couple of girlfriends closer together in great discussion.

I contributed the reflections for the guide on the Ten Commandments and boy, did it challenge me as a writer and a daughter of God to explore what the Ten Commandments mean for us on a daily basis. The Catechism offers so much wisdom into what the Ten Commandments mean for us as Christians and I was surprised to learn how many aspects of our life the Catechism explores through the lens of the Commandments. I really hope that this guide helps you to understand that the Ten Commandments are foundational to our lives and part of God's direct word to us in how to live.

The guides are downloadable so the price point stays low and you can print them off at your convenience, and you can also choose between the different guides as to what best appeals to your group of ladies. I think these guides will give so much to groups that are already formed, but also a great way to start a group if you aren't in one already.

Hope you can jump over to Blessed is She and grab a guide for yourself and your small group today!





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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

What I've Been Reading Lately (or six months ago)







I desperately need to get to my quick book reviews because I'm about 30 books behind! But on the other hand...blog post material! Have you read any of these? Am I nuts? Let me know all your bookish thoughts.




Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple

This book didn't land for me, and I'm still trying to pinpoint why exactly. It's written in the same quick, witty style as Semple's first novel, Where'd You Go, Bernadette, which I enjoyed so much. It tells the story of one day in the life of a Seattle woman, her family quirks are delved into, a funny child comes along for the ride, and a marital mystery is solved. But for some reason this story didn't feel as emotionally poignant or compelling as Bernadette. I didn't love the anti-Catholic jibes on every other page, and I'm just not sure how I should feel about the ending. I just feel conflicted about the entire book and I'm not sure why!









84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

This is a slim book compiled of the letters between a book buyer and a book seller separated by the Atlantic. It's perfectly charming and the fact it's the real letters between two people make it even more enjoyable. I just love books of letters, I love the by-gone culture of letter writing, and I definitely love buying books so I loved this book. If you're not a lover of any of those things though, I'm pretty sure you wouldn't love it as much.













The Warden by Anthony Trollope

My Trollope book of 2016, it was a often times hilarious introduction to the Barcetshire chronicles, Trollope's masterpiece series. Trollope is an acquired taste. Or maybe not so much acquired, but a practiced taste. He's so rich in societal commentary, character studies, and witticisms that reading his books is worth it. But it does take time to get used to the Victorian prose, the lengthy development of plot, and being transported to another world. Now I want to go read more Trollope.











Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante

The third instalment of the Neapolitan Novels, this book was intense. I still don't know if I should be making judgements on the characters yet, but I found this novel to be so packed with emotion and conflict on so many levels it really held my attention. I totally get why these novels aren't some readers cup of tea, but to me they are just un-put-down-able. I'm even putting off reading the last book because I don't want them to end somehow, maybe for fear of being disappointed that all this complex story telling will have an unsatisfying ending. I'll let you know!











Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny

The sixth book in the series and I think the novel that I enjoyed the most. The setting of Quebec City was so perfectly set that I loved each scene. I also thought that structurally this is Penny's finest work in the series yet. The only negative comment I would add is that I feel Penny's Canadian history is pretty biased and it stuck out to me like a sore thumb within the story. But the pacing was perfectly done, an almost-perfect mystery!










This was quick. I'm going to post more soon! Until then I'm linking this up with Modern Mrs Darcy and Quick Lit!



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