Thursday, July 14, 2016

My Life and Cigars






I smoked my first cigar at a Catholic missionary/bible school, that should come as no surprise to you, when I was 18. Introduced to smoking them by my dearest roommate and our partner in crime, giggling, and chocolate binging. I can't remember if we were the only girls who enjoyed cigar smoking at school, but we felt like we were pretty cool.

That year we smoked around campfires, on fire escapes after curfew, and out in the snow. There was perilously little to do in that small town and no where to hide alcohol. We smoked Captain Blacks with relish.

At Catholic university there was a few of us who snuck cigars onto the decks of our dorms, smoked them while walking by the lake, and sometimes down the dark street beside the cemetery. I think this was the first time I smoked a legitimate cigar, with smooth deep flavours and scents of leather and oak.

I did end up taking a prolonged hiatus from cigar smoking, during those back-to-back-to-back(etc.) years of pregnancy and breastfeeding, but I did miss the relaxing hits that only nicotine offers, the camaraderie of sharing a cigar around a campfire, watching a late summer sunset with only a cigar for company.




Of course, last year at a conference full of Catholic moms you know cigar smoking was on the menu. Even if it was out on a street corner in downtown Charleston. It was basically the greatest.

Since last summer I've gotten back in the semi-habit of smoking the occasional cigar while out for an evening walk by myself on the weekends, or around the campfire with my husband with a glass of scotch, and recently on my birthday with some great friends. There's really just a relaxing, fun quality of cigar smoking. Something that feels special even if there isn't a special occasion, and delightfully freeing somehow, maybe it's just because it makes a mom like me feel a bit rebellious.

Last year the highlight of my blogging career happened when a sainted man from CigarsCity.com emailed me and offered me cigars to try and review. Free cigars! To try and review! My blogging ship had come in folks!

And I got them within a week, and then didn't smoke them until this spring.

Which is ridiculously criminal when it comes to smoking cigars, but for some reason I just don't smoke cigars in the winter when it's dark by 4:30 and -25 degrees.




But then I finally smoked them this spring and they still were awesome! He sent me some Joya de Nicaraguan cigars which turned out to be a really evenly smoking, full bodied cigar that both my friends and I enjoyed a lot. And also some CAO Gold cigars which were smooth yet complexly flavoured and really tasty. I'm so glad I got to smoke these with friends because we really had a fun time trying out new cigars together.

In conclusion, I'm a cigar fan for life and possibly the worst blog reviewer ever. But if you're looking for cigars online that will be shipped to you conveniently preventing you from risking taking all your young children to a cigar shop in the middle of the day then check out CigarsCity. If anything you've gotta appreciate a cigar store taking a risk on a Catholic mommy blogger while trying to reach the coveted cigar market of Catholic moms.

Now go on and smoke a cigar this weekend, it'll be the best fun you've had all summer!





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Friday, July 8, 2016

Seven Quick Take vol. 145


Saying hi to Kelly!



{one}

I'm obsessed with instagramming mushrooms and I can't stop.


I'm still in denial it's already July, and yet here we are already a week in! We've had a nice slow, lazy summer week this week which has been nice. I've been noticing I'm getting a little crazy anxious thinking we should be doing more, we're not doing enough, but the whole point of summer is to have this break from the schedules and appointments and activities. But it's really hard as a mom, especially a homeschool mom, who feels wired to be moving people at all times to just sit back and relax about it all. Because the thing is I really believe that kids need the down time, the boredom, the freedom of summer. And I know our schedule has much busier weeks and weekends this summer than this one so I need to calm the heck down!


{two}

Our weather has been cool and the forecast looks...cool. So we haven't been to the lake yet this year and haven't been in the kiddie pool and sprinkler this week. It equals kids needing a bit more things to do around the house, and I've been balancing some sick kids with normal kids and I've had a few days where I feel like they're definitely driving me crazy. In other words: nothing new to see here, folks!



{three}



I've been on a Pimm's Cup kick as of late. And a few people were asking me on Instagram what the heck it was. Those people were obviously not British. A Pimm's Cup is basically Pimm's, a spiced and slightly sweetened gin aperitif, and ginger ale or lemonade, then garnished with cucumber and strawberry. A really easy summer cocktail that isn't too sweet and has a nice kick of spice that I really enjoy. I'm sure there are fancier recipes out there, but for simplicity sake this is a go-to for me. Until I run our of Pimm's of course.



{four}



I hope you all have heard of the wonderful new membership site of Blessed Is She. It's a new part of the ministry where you'll be able to join in some amazing live workshops, have access to the Advent and Lent journals shipped to you directly as soon as they're published, and hopefully more opportunities to grow alongside other Catholic women. It's something you can do on a monthly basis if you're interested in particular workshops and it helps keep this ministry going!



{five}



I've also been meaning to share a bit about Kelly's new retreat book that she's recently released, it's a really straight forward but richly rewarding three day retreat based on the writings of Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ. This is the perfect resource if you're looking for a personal renewal and focus on the Eucharist, or if you've got a small group or retreat planned. I think it would be great to do with a few friends, and to really dive into a more personal devotion to the Eucharist. Highly recommended!




{six}



We're going to be taking a little podcasting break, but before we do we have a brand new episode this week where Haley and I talk all about the fun of making big life decisions together with our spouse. We hoped to touch on some of the big facets of making decisions even though it can be a really big topic. Haley has come up with a whole ebook devoted to the subject and I think she makes some really great points if you're looking for a bit of guidance when it comes to this kinda thing. Hope you get a chance to listen!



{seven}


Hoping you all have a wonderful weekend, it's probably going to be hotter than ours, but we're Canadian so we'll make it. We're hoping to take the kids to Finding Dory, and most of my kids are just excited for the popcorn and pop. Because we did it ONE time and now we HAVE to! Kids these days...












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Friday, June 24, 2016

Seven Quick Takes vol 144



Checking in with Kelly on this fine Friday.


{one}



As usual the week flies away from me and I am left wondering where the time has gone?? I believe it flew by with the cries of children every 5 minutes needing food. And finding shoes. And a bit of laundry. No need for six more takes!



{two}



I can't believe it's the end of June! 
We celebrated the baptism of our new godson on Sunday and had a lovely day with friends. Wasn't it just yesterday I was having my own handful of children baptized? It was over three years? Are you sure? 



{three}

My husband finished up his third year of his second trade ticket last week and there was much rejoicing! He was commuting to school everyday, 4 hours a day so I'm sure he was exhausted. I was just a bit lonely and burnt out from him being gone another hour every day. Let's just say it's lucky he never wanted to do graduate studies because I can say with all my being, I would not allow that to happen! #supportivewife



{four}





The boys finished up their soccer season this week much to their chagrin. They loved soccer and could probably play everyday. I, on the other hand was ready. I have not gotten to the point of enjoying taking my kids to activities. I may never get to that point, let's be honest. And we never do sports that last more than six weeks, so I am not a hockey mom to be. I'm glad they had a great season and we did it though. I'm sure they'll thank me in the future....hahahaha.



{five}

Remember how I documented the fact that I planted a garden this year? Well, we're just reaching that point where the teensy seedlings are poking above the surface of the earth and the weeds...are towering above them! I love how the gardening season starts off with "Yay! I'm going to plant all the things! Gardening is fun!" then two weeks later its: "Shit. Who's going to deal with all these weeds?" That's where I am right now. Will all these hours of work that results in a so-so harvest of vegetables my family wolfs down in 20 minutes be worth it? Probably not. I'm the most depressing gardener ever. I should start a blog.



{six}



This week on the podcast we had a really interesting conversation with Karen Edmisten about sharing the faith with people in our lives. I find Karen and her book so encouraging when it comes to sharing the faith. It's really easy for me to feel discouraged and that I'm not doing enough to share the faith with others, but Karen's reassurance that real conversion comes from just living the faith and loving the people in our life made me feel so much more encouraged to keep going. I hope you get a chance to listen.




{seven}

It's going to be a fun and busy weekend as my youngest sister graduates from high school this weekend! I'm officially really, really old. It feels so strange that she's graduating. Like my whole world view needs to shift somehow. 
Oh, and I'll be weeding the garden.

Hope you have a wonderful last weekend in June!





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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

What I've Been Reading Lately - Summer Reads Edition!





Well, I know I'm not the most prolific blogger these days, but how does a month go by so quickly?? I just wrote a book post didn't I?? Good thing I like writing them!

I thought I'd share some "summer" reads today. Light reads, chick-lit reads, and some of what I've read from the ridiculously popular Modern Mrs. Darcy's Summer Reading Guide just in case you're interested in a second opinion!




The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza

This is pure chick-lit but well written enough that you're not feeling as if your brain is seeping through your eye sockets. Wait, was that not positive? I meant that I enjoyed this book especially as it's about the fashion magazine industry, and has a relatable protagonist who's not in her 20's. These are big deals in the chick-lit genre! I did find myself cringing and weeping for my generation as the younger antagonist is drawn as a classic millennial who has vast technological expertise but zero conscience. It's a good beach read though and a Modern Mrs Darcy pick.





 The Clasp by Sloane Crosley

This was an uber trendy novel last year as Mindy Kaling was raving about it and thus made it soar up the bestseller list. It's the story of a group of friends from college who have kept in touch, but all haven't found their bliss in the years since graduating. They come upon a necklace with a mysterious past and get pulled into somewhat of a mystery. The writing is witty at times, but I'm starting to tire of this contemporary fiction where obviously the characters are so desperate for meaning in their lives but never come close to any. Have we just lost the idea of character development?





The Winemakers by Jan Moran

I think you could categorize this as a straight-up romance. But a classy one! For some reason I saw this and decided to pick it up and it is a perfect breezy, romantic read for the summer and who doesn't like those once in a while? I enjoyed the setting of Napa Valley and wineries, while taking place in the 50s. It was full of family secrets, melodrama, and a couple earthquakes for good measure. Excellent when enjoyed with your own glass of red!





The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

I'm fairly befuddled by this one. It's over-hyped for sure, and although that didn't raise my expectations, it's hard to know how I feel about it. I guess it's safe to say I didn't love it. The writing is crisp and also follows that popular style of each chapter comprising it's own short story-like focus on one character. It's a tale of family dysfunction swirling around the sudden loss of an awaited inheritance because of a wayward brother. Again, it's full of characters who are trying to make their way through a cushy life in New York City but all seem to figure out ways of following their feelings and coming out better? worse? the same? in the end. I think I'm weary of these moral milieus that are at the same time unrealistic and don't lend themselves to really great story. I can't say I'd recommend this one, but it's a Modern Mrs Darcy pick.





 Along the Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams

This is an intriguing romance about two women; a new widow, Annabelle, who buys an incredibly expensive car from a young, unwed, and pregnant woman. It takes place in the 60's with flashbacks to the older woman's romance in 1930's Europe. I enjoyed how it was written and that it felt like a period piece as you felt like you were alternatively in 1930's France and 1960's Miami. It proves to be a dramatic ending as Annabelle flees Nazi Germany. A well-written beach read for a lazy summer day!


Linking up with some Quick Lit at Modern Mrs Darcy's!


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Friday, June 10, 2016

Seven Quick Takes vol. 143


Happy Friday! Say hi to Kelly!


{one}




Yay Friday! 
We've had a week of really hot weather, then rain, then a bit more sun! We finished planting our garden-finally, don't get me started about how hard it is to grow things up here. We planted a lot of rows of potatoes and now I'm living in fear of how much I'm going to have to hill. We haven't planted potatoes for a couple years because I just haven't had the time for plants that require attention, so we'll all hope together I can keep things alive.



{two}

It's so weird that it's already June 10. I'm trying to remember to enjoy every day that I can open windows and walk outside without a coat on! We're also enjoying no school and some full on summer. It's pretty hilarious hearing everyone complain about their kids being home all the time driving them crazy--I just want to say, welcome to my life every day all day! 
But sincerely, it's hard making summer feel like a break to a homeschooling mom, so I've been trying to take it easier the last couple weeks. Reading more, not worrying if the kids are doing constructive things at every moment, trying to schedule in some days off more consistently so that it actually feels like I'm getting some kind of a break. I've also been doing some HIIT workouts which is absolutely crazy if you know me. And I'm also trying to just make more salads for dinner. Which may mean my kid's are going hungry more often...but seriously, they need to learn how to eat vegetables when combined with other vegetables.



{three}




I've been watching Chef's Table all week because of the newly released season on Netflix and I just want to gush about how much I love this show! I mean, I love almost every foodie/chef show that exists, but this show does such an amazing job sharing the real human stories of what make chefs chefs. I feel like I can now have a chef/food related metaphor for anything in life.



{four}



We've been reading a million great children's books and I wish I had more time and was better at sharing all the picture books we go through around here. I love blogs that share copious amounts of beautiful children books. I'm also the biggest user of my library website I feel. It seems we always have on average about 70 items out from the library at any given time! But this book had Nora completely mesmerized for weeks, she even told me I wasn't allowed to take it back to the library ever! But then I had to because it was a million days overdue. And hey, everybody does love bacon. It's a fact.




{five}






Will I ever forget how many wet socks are around this house on any given day? I sort of hope not, but at the same time THERE ARE SO MANY WET SOCKS AROUND HERE!!! I think it's safe to say that 4 out of 5 kids get wet socks every time they go outside. It hasn't been warm enough for bare feet the last couple days so 4x100 equals socks everywhere. Let's just hope it's one of those things I never forget. For better and for worse.




{six}



We had a new podcast episode this week talking with Katie Sciba all about dealing with anxiety and depression as moms and women and what we can do to help ourselves and our families. We hope the conversation may be a good starting point for conversation for you, and to at least know you're not alone!



{seven}




We've got a quieter weekend which we're going to enjoy as much as possible but it looks like it may be rainy! We had a beautiful weekend last weekend to be outside and the kids were busy with everything from riding bikes to practicing archery to swimming and it was glorious! So it might end up being a movie weekend but we'll see! Hope you have a great one!














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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Community Won't (Necessarily) Make Your Life Easier





I've been thinking lately a little bit about the idea of community and how we think about it. More importantly I've been thinking about my thoughts concerning community. Mostly because I generally struggle with the idea of community since I have very little around me. It's a tough situation to be in when you have no local "community" surrounding you. Where you don't have friends down the street, or at Mass, or even many at the kid's soccer games. It's kind of been a constant struggle for me which can only really be remedied by our family moving to a new a community at this point. But there's a lot going on with what we as moms think about "community" to a more general and greater extent.

We all know community is necessary and beautiful part of life. I am in no way debating that! There is so much to be said with being able to share in each other's burdens, support one another with our presence or physical help, experiencing each other's joy. This is only heightened as we become mothers, grow families, and raise the next generation. There are so many things that can only be shared mother to mother, so much that can be communicated from one understanding heart to another.

But I think a lot of us, especially Catholic moms, might have a mythical image of idealised "community" that holds us back from truly enjoying and living the community we do have in our lives right now. I think it’s a misconception to see community as some kind of end in itself, a paradasical commune-like existence where we can depend on shared childcare, minimal cooking, and mimosas with our friends during the day while braiding one another's hair.

I think some of us live in a state of near constant disappointment that this isn't our current reality. We resent our daily tasks and chores because we think it's too much, that we're not meant to do it alone, that if only we lived in community we'd have so much more time to be ourselves and to take care of ourselves. I know I've thought that before.

The problem is that this mythical community is just that: mythical.

Our mother's didn't have that kind of community, our grandmother's didn't have that kind of community. And if we come from a cultural background where different generations lived in the same household we may know that they shared in the housework, but that there were also a myriad of other difficult issues to deal with in sharing close quarters with extended family. For most of us there will never be a perfect community, Catholic or otherwise. And for the majority of us we are simply called to be more active members of the world than sheltered in bubbles of like-minded Catholics.

Our grandmothers may have worked alongside their sisters and mothers but their work comprised a full day's labor that we can hardly understand today. If they were sharing the work of childcare and household duties it was most likely because they were supporting a greater population than just their immediate family in their home and at their table, or were working full time outside of the home just to make ends meet. My grandmother worked on her family's farm and would routinely cook three meals a day for about 20 people. The burden of loneliness was lighter, but the workload wasn't. Let's also acknowledge that we as modern moms do so much even with the advent of household technology, but that our husbands are doing far more domestically than any previous generation. My grandmother's have both commented to me that they never had the kind of support that my husband gives me when it comes to the daily care of our kids.

The mom's groups, parish ministries, and friend's down the road are all important, but let's not put our expectations in a perfect life in somehow levelling up when it comes to community. Our personal issues are not solved by simply having more people in our lives.

There is a core loneliness that only Christ can answer in our hearts. There is so much that is downright difficult when it comes to living out our vocations especially in our current societal situation. We all desperately want to pass on our faith to our children, to live holy examples for them and keep our sanity while doing it. But parenting has never been easy, and never will be. There may be aspects of our aspirations towards a perfect community that want the support of others, but in a more convoluted way seeks to make our daily lives easier. I’m not saying I don’t want that too, hey, I’d love a nanny or a cook to drop by any day of the week, but I think I’m getting community wrong when I begin to think that community will make my life easier and more comfortable, that it will somehow get rid of the daily grind and the daily sacrifice which so much of motherhood requires.

We can also get caught up in the pursuit of community and skip over the importance of first fostering our marriages. Our marriages are our most important relationship, that's the community we should want to grow and continue to nurture as our first priority. Marriage is the relationship that will impact our hearts and our everyday the most. If our own husbands don't understand our struggles at home and offer their help that's a far greater issue than having a next door neighbour to share housecleaning with.

I think we should all be looking to grow the communities around us. I think this is a very valid and important task for us as mothers, and really just as human beings. But we need to understand that fostering good community doesn't mean that our lives are going to get easier when it comes to facing a sink full of dishes in the morning, disciplining our children, and facing our own personal emotional and spiritual issues that arise within motherhood. There is no perfect community coming to rescue us from what we see as personal drudgery or give us  right order in our hearts and homes.

So please, go out and enjoy the community you have right now! If it's one friend down the street then foster that friendship. If it's a vibrant mom's group that meets once a week be grateful for the opportunity. If it's online friendship with people who understand you and your values know that that's important too. If it's making a difficult choice to live near family to the detriment of a yearly salary then go all in and enjoy the ability to have grandparents watch your kids. If it's living near sisters then get ready to take on their drama and relish the ability to vent without judgement. Let’s enjoy and live fully the actual community we have right now, rather than waiting for the mythical commune.









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Friday, May 27, 2016

Seven Quick Takes vol. 142



I'm back, Kelly! I'm back!

{one}



Thank goodness it's Friday/I can't believe it's Friday already!!We 
I'm completely ready to be locked in a room by myself for the duration of the weekend.
Am I the only one who feels like that by Friday? 5 kids x infinite number of asked questions per day + small amount of patience = dead by Friday.




{two}



We've been busy around here though which is how whole weeks go by without me being able to blog even a tiny bit. Last weekend was the long weekend up here and it was my birthday and Gemma's birthday so we had some great friends come up and spend the weekend at our house with their 3 babies. The only problem was it rained most of the 3 days so we basically were in a house with 8 kids for 3 days straight. Oh, and one started vomiting at midnight on the night of my birthday. But we made it and it actually wasn't too bad, and we had a pretty good time! I feel like we levelled up somehow in parenting. I also got to smoke cigars every night and drink great scotch so it was a really memorable birthday weekend!




{three}



Requisit "I can't believe my baby is so old" take.
She's 9.
How did this happen???
I vividly remember her being born yesterday. And now she's a big kid!!
I'll just be over here crying for a while...




{four}

We wrapped up school last week as most of the kids finished up their curriculum programs. I was pretty proud we ended up finishing so early in the year and didn't have things drag out too badly. They're still little enough that there isn't a big workload when it comes to sit-down work, and we will definitely be reading a ton during the summer, plus I think I'm going to let them think workbooks are fun and keep letting them do those when they feel like it, so basically we're just stopping the daily stress of me thinking I have to get a long list of school done a day - but that feels wonderful.




{five}



In breaking news - I finally bought prescription sunglasses. At the ripe old age of 31 I thought it was time to be an adult and finally get real sunglasses. I don't know what exactly I've been waiting for because I loovve glasses. And I occasionally go out in the sun. I hit up good ol' Firmoo for some cheap ones that I won't feel horrible about if some child comes by and destroys them mercilessly.




{six}



I've been meaning to mention this sweet new children's book that I was sent a review copy of, Into the Sea, Out of the Tomb: Jonah and Jesus by Maura Roan McKeegan. It's a wonderfully illustrated telling of the story of Jonah alongside the life of Christ with some beautiful writing. I was really impressed with how well the two stories were brought together, it's a great way to start exposing our kids to thinking about the Bible more wholly while being a great book to read. I especially appreciated Ted Schleunderfritz's illustrations because he's been a favourite illustrator of mine from his work in Gilbert! Magazine. Well worth picking up for your kids! 



{seven}



The weather has finally turned rainy in the last week and we had been in desperate need of rain so it's really welcome. I also love rain so I won't complain at all! We've had showers off and on for a couple days now and it's storming right now so all the kids ran into the house and are hiding in the basement. But everything's so lush and green it's the best time of year! I'll be outside working out, er, I mean, drinking wine outdoors this weekend, hope you guys have a great weekend!







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