Friday, February 28, 2014

Seven Quick Takes vol 81.

Joining the 7 posts in 7 days queen, Jen!


Jen picked the best week possible for me to actually accomplish 7 posts in 7 days because my husband was away this week for work so I had spare time in the evenings and a heightened need for adult communication and thus - blogging! 

The house got totally neglected though. It's like a small bomb has exploded. But a bomb that was located in the pantry? Seriously. There are dry spaghetti noodles everywhere. I crunch with every step I take, but thems the breaks when theres only one adult around with 5 kiddos.  

So happy my husband must return and save me from death by dirty floor; or toddler tyrants who have really taken a nosedive in their behaviour; or watching all the bad tv; or too much wine. 

I've written all week while drinking too much wine.


My husband left Sunday afternoon, and what should happen Sunday evening?? A water crisis!
Because we live in a rural area, read - middle of nowhere, we get our water from a well that feeds a water treatment system in my house which supplies both my house and my parents house down the road. Well, Sunday night something went funky on the water system to which we didn't really have a solution and/or understand so we were in a major water conservation mode which included only drinking water and toilets. At first we thought it was a malfunctioning part of the indoor water system but when the whole thing went kaput on Monday my dad figured it must be the well pump. Which was really inconvenient since its 250 feet down, covered in several feet of snow and would only be fixed in this weeks abysmally freezing temperatures hovering around -15 to -20 C. I was coming up with survival plans in my mind while simultaneously freaking out and wanting a shower until miraculously a water well specialist was able to come Tuesday evening, fix the pump by dragging it all the way to the surface and replace it in less than two hours and full water rights were restored! Wednesday I was able to shower and bathe 5 stinking children, but I was getting pretty close to waving a white flag and moving into a 5 star hotel with a second room I could lock all the kids into if things didn't turn around real quick! 

Hey, if I liked living without running water, indoor plumbing, and the ability to bathe I'd like camping. And I don't like camping.


So the weather. It's starting to put me in a perma-bad mood and it is not pretty. This weekend it's expected to break records it will be so cold. And I'm not talking Atlanta-just-below-freezing records, I'm talking breaking Canadian records. Like -45 C with the wind. It's just getting so close to March and I am past my point of endurance. For Lent let's give up the cold! And we'll all suffer by not having to crank up the heat everyday, and build fires, and wear mittens! Or I guess I offer it up? 


The Downton finale was the best episode of the season. Which doesn't say all that much, but it felt like a treat to watch for a change!

I liked a lot of it: such as everything Rose wore, Paul Giamatti - can't believe I had to wait all season for him but he was perfect, Isobel and the Lord's burgeoning, but very serious, sort-of romance, Mosley coming out of nowhere and turning out to be pretty likeable, the storyline with the Prince of Wales and stealing back the letter, Bates being a general badass (I know, I know, he killed he-who-should-not-be-named but I was kinda cheering for that to happen all season), and finally seeing the London house!

It always has bugged me that we never saw the London house. Of course they had a gorgeous London house, and we needed to see it!

I'm so sad for Edith. Edith, why can't you make better choices?? It's going to be a huge train wreck.

Men fighting over Mary. I feel like this is something we're supposed to like, but it still feels really strange. It's like Downton Bachelorette or something. And way for Mr. Blake to throw a curveball that episode, or have one thrown for him. Now that's he rich but shirks his wealth I can't help but feel that increases his appeal. I can't refer to him as Blake though, to me he's Andrew Foyle and that's what I call him. I also think the writers are purposefully trying to keep us from choosing sides. But I know that once we're led down the garden path of objectivity something dramatic will be thrown into the story and we won't believe that we thought we like Gillingham/Blake. I think I'm officially on Team Andrew Foyle.


I'm not settled on what I'm giving up for Lent. I don't know if I will give something up, but I do feel that I'm going to be focused on quiet. This seems simple, but life with 5 kids offers little quiet. I feel though besides the kids, I'm choosing noise more often when I do have the choice. I'm going to try and think how to actually implement this idea, but I know it's going to have to come from something I'm choosing in between all the kid chaos. 


My sweet immobile baby turned 11 months this week and still shows no desire to move under her own power. I mean, she can, when forced, but she doesn't see the advantage. Not when she's got people to carry her and 4 siblings to serve and entertain her wherever she may be. But because I want her to be moving under her own steam when this snow finally melts, ya know - June, I've been getting her going on a crawling workout where she suffers on her stomach on the laminate floor and slides around. She can do it about 5 minutes before becoming completely miserable. She's a hilarious, crazy baby. 


I always mean to link to great things I've read all week, but this week I can't remember anything. Forgive me because I think I'm a little tired of this single parenting business. There has been so much great stuff to read anyway because of this awesome 7 days of posts, so go visit Jen's link-up and visit all those hardworking bloggers! And thanks for putting up with me 7 days in a row.

Have a warmer weekend than I!

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Turning Towards Lent

Lent's coming to us next week, although fairly late in the year comparatively, and I'm just beginning to think about it. Because I have to, because it's less than a week away. 

I think I'm a fairly common example of how pesky human nature can be, especially how prone it is to procrastination, I'd put off lent for as long as I could. Probably until right about the end of the liturgical year where I would then completely freak out and figure I better squeeze in a couple weeks of sacrifice, if I could fit it in. Which is yet another reason why it's nice to depend upon a bigger, universal entity to make these types of decisions for us. 

I love the idea of having a season devoted to sacrifice, prayer, penance. If it was only a day what kind of sacrifice could it demand? If it was only a week I wouldn't get into much of a routine or really make any lasting change or dent in my own bad habits of luxury or be able to even see any of my own weakness buried in all my distractions, and crutches, and dependencies.

I'm not too sure how good it is for us to look back upon Lents and see how much we accomplished, but that seems to be the tendency. Why can't we look back and see the grace instead of what we did, how we did it, how much we accomplished? In a season where it should be about our turning to God, our conversion to God, our repentance to God, we're completely preoccupied with what we do, which seems to be entirely missing the point. And I fall for that terrible line of thinking every time.

Last Lent I was in the throes of the final pushes of pregnancy. I remember anxiety plaguing me more than just the physical difficulties of the last months of growing new life, and it was the emotional toil that felt the hardest. I felt as if I was waiting and stuck. I couldn't make a baby come out when I wanted it to, so I was stuck with waiting, literally lying there waiting for the big event to happen. I felt weighed down physically, mentally, and emotionally. I didn't suffer happily or constantly offer it up. I don't think I accomplished anything. But I did have to pray every day just to get by. I felt very impoverished of consolation and strength. Weak in my lack of control, trust, and hope. 

I can't say whether or not last Lent made dramatic, instant changes to my soul. But I do know that times of sacrifice and suffering are not times where we accomplish things either literally or spiritually but when God works. We don't always see it, we don't always feel it, but the sacrifices and suffering that bring us to God in our smallness and weakness is at the heart of Lent. 

Lent is really the uncovering of our weakness. Hopefully through our offering of sacrifice, but sometimes in the suffering that we do not seek out. Pope Francis has said that our weaknesses and denials make up a type of poverty that we should be willing to give up in order to help others in their poverty. He reminds us that the truth of self-denial, going through suffering, and offering and living it for others is going to hurt; "I distrust a charity that costs nothing, that does not hurt."

I'm going to keep this in mind in the midst of the small daily hurts, and hopefully in the bigger ones that I don't see answers or ends to this Lent. But what we also cannot forget is that Lent is a time of reflection on the virtue of hope. We may be offering penance, but we do so in the hope -- the expectation and knowing that Easter and the Resurrection are surely coming. 

It's the paradox of Lent: the poverty of suffering and penance with the knowledge of the impending rich joys of Easter. 

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Everyday Hospitality and Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist

I recently read Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist and it has gotten me thinking about the charism and ministry of hospitality in our day-to-day life.

In Bread & Wine Niequist has created a compilation of essays and her favourite recipes that come together in a wonderful and insightful food memoir of sorts. She talks about the importance of food, hospitality and entertaining and how closely these things intertwine with relationship, community, and sharing faith and love.

I enjoyed the read, but maybe had higher expectations than what the book delivered. This may be because I thought this was going to be a little more hands-on, more of a guide to learning to love cooking and entertaining, or how to embrace more hospitality. And although her spiritual insights were inspiring and very true, I couldn't help but think, "This is such a Catholic concept, yet she's writing as if it's an amazing new discovery!" Which is a thought that occurs to me often when reading evangelical Christian books, and not with an attitude of snobbery, reveals to me yet another way in which all truth is Catholic.

Recent holy Catholics like Catherine Doherty and Dorothy Day have believed strongly in all the aspects of hospitality feeding the soul and nurturing those in need at a most basic level, as well as a long Catholic tradition and ministry of feeding the hungry and clothing the naked which has led to a very deep tradition of the virtue and beauty of hospitality.

I really enjoy entertaining, cooking, hosting, throwing a good party. But I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, and I think this book is good for encouraging those who may feel hesitant. The book makes the point that we shouldn't be trying to impress, but trying to minister and love those we invite into our home. We really build relationship and community with those we share food with, and opening our home is builds this strong community through casual meals and get-togethers. We should maybe be pushing outside our comfort zones a little to create something that builds a culture of people who want to spend time with one another, enjoy each other's company, celebrate each other's goals and share each other's sorrows.

Niequist's style of entertaining and hospitality isn't quite as the same as mine however. While I may dream of creating luxurious evening dinner parties consisting solely of adults while not having to serve toddler food, what happens in reality is usually hosting for more than 10 people with the majority of guests being under the age of 10. I wish this type of entertaining would be more elegantly thought of because it doesn't have to be complicated or fancy, but it can still be delicious and flavourful while done with easy style. We shouldn't cut ourselves off from entertaining because our families and circles of friends are larger than the norm. It's an important way can we minister to each other as families, and continue to build a more family friendly and Catholic culture for ourselves and our children.

Niequist's attitude and love of food is contagious. I hope I can put her beautiful attitude about sharing her love of others, journeying with friends and family through life and all it's difficulties, and just enjoyment of eating and cooking into practice.

Are you a food memoir-aholic like me? Or does the idea of cooking and cleaning and entertaining more than your kids leave you moving towards the couch?

Joining the Housewifespice love of What We're Reading Wednesday.

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Does Being a Mom to a Bunch of Kids Make Me a Bad Friend??

I've been thinking about this topic for a while and I can't quite figure out if I'm being ridiculous and overly neurotic and obsessive or if it's an actual fact. And thus: blogging it.

Do you think being a mom to a bunch of kids makes you a bad friend?

I'm saying a "bunch of kids", because I believe in making time for friends and that this was easily possible for me until the people in diapers outnumbered the people not in diapers in our house. Now I'm not saying making time for friends is calling them everyday, or seeing them whenever you want, because that's a much more difficult prospect once you've birthed another human, but intentionally maintaining friendships can be easier than we think. Just a phone call every so often if it contains a meaningful conversation, or maybe keeping up texting, or even just a hello every once in a while on the ol' book of Face. Just something to let you know you care enough to check in, and ask them how they're doing means so much.

I'm also asking this lately because I have always been believed strongly in women and mothers keeping up their friendships while having kids. Friendship is one of the most important relationships in life, you can't get around it. I'm sure you've known the girls who've naively thrown off friendship in favour of boyfriends, or husbands, and end up lonely a few years later. Or maybe women who have  become so completely enamoured with their babies that they simply forget how to make time for pursuing and maintaining the bare minimum of friendship. I know while we grow and mature friendships change, but even though they may change their importance and existence is something worthy of our time and priorities. No matter how strong a marriage or how much we love our children the fact that we need other women who understand us, talk to us, sympathize with us, and laugh with us doesn't change.

Lately though I've wondered if I've been an awful friend. I feel as if I've been stretched to my limit with kids, toddlers, baby, then husband, then a little time to myself. There's simply no extra time. Beyond that if I do have time away I feel as if I'm a weary killjoy, counting the hours because of babysitters or needing to get back to a nursing baby. I feel like I'm a terrible listener because my attention span is as short as the time it takes to be constantly correcting toddlers behaviour and manners. I boss friends around to place to place, keeping things running on time, and doling out fashion advice because I'm so used to commanding a small army of wayward child-size barbarians in need of civilization. I feel as if I'm losing sociable skills because I'm constantly surrounded by toddlers, all day every day!

These frustrations become amplified around my single and/or childless friends. I know that maybe they'll understand me one day, but I worry that in the present we'll drift too far apart; that we won't even be in touch by the time they become mothers rolls around. These frustrations and worries have been weighing on me recently. Knowing that there is no easy fix, that I can't simply plug quality time into the friendship bank and have instant success, makes my friendships seem precarious in a way.

Am I worrying too much, fretting over my weird insecurities? Or is this something I just need to mature about and get over? Have you figured it all out? And if so-give me all your wisdom!

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Monday, February 24, 2014

Monday Motivation

Oh, another Monday!

Sometimes Mondays can be so filled with stay at home mom melancholy. A long week stretches ahead with no sleep in sight and only messes to clean up and fights to break up and food to distribute to the starving masses.

However! I had a fairly great weekend despite grumpy babies and difficult toddlers and over-emotional 6-year-olds (I'm not naming any names or anything!) so I hope I'm headed towards a decent Monday.

The thing about motherhood is that it's a whole lot more dependent on your own attitude than you really want to admit. You're always going to have a kid going through some "stage" of difficulty. If you have more than one I think that's almost a guarantee. There are always going to be messes, there are always going to be a discipline/behaviour/learning issues to deal with, there will always be laundry. But we do have a choice involved with whether or not we're going to let our children and their different needs for mothering dictate how joyful or discouraged we get. And sometimes that seems like an annoying fact of life because it's a lot easier to grumble and blame it on the teething baby than to choose happiness.

The tried and true proverb of the years flying by is oh-so-true though. I don't want to look back and think about being a constant grump for those years where my children overflowed with bottomless joy and wonder. So I think of that when I need to snap out of the irritable, spiralling out of control bad moods. Sometimes its enough to make the choice to change your attitude that can kickstart a better pattern, even if it's just a few more smiles and more time for cuddles.

When I think about it, making a choice makes room for grace. With a small act of the will God can do so much. In that way our small choices mirror Mary's perfect "yes". 

A picture of each of my babies, Gemma through Nora, all at age 11 months. I'm getting all sentimental about my babies getting so big so fast, what is going on?!

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Friday, February 21, 2014

Seven Quick Takes vol. 80

Just seven extremely quick takes today - I'm out the door to the exciting pastures of the city, make sure to do your time over at Jen's for the goods!


Well, I'm glad February is chugging right along. I'm not getting my hopes up of anything resembling spring coming anywhere near a month from now. But once February is over you feel as if you're at least in the home stretch of winter. Oh those glorious days when I don't have to get babies bundled to go outside! An extra half hour a day just from that! 


Oh, am I, too, obsessed with the Waterlogue app? Why yes, yes I am! 
One of my dreams is to be able to paint with watercolours. I have just no natural artistic ability in that direction, but I've always thought it the prettiest drawing/painting type skill to have. I think because I imagine myself a la Emma Wodehouse serenely being able to make a watercolour of the gardens and so forth. 
But - ha! Now I can combine my failed dreams and slight addiction to Instagram with Waterlogue! Muahahaha!


I hope I'm the last one to finally listen to the great podcast "A Good Story is Hard to Find" with the wonderful Julie Davis of Happy Catholic and Happy Catholic Books on Patheos. It's a really wonderful podcast full of great conversations about books, and tv, and movies from a smart Catholic perspective and I've been listening to old episodes all week. Really good stuff.

I kinda love podcasts. They feel like listening to blogs for me. When well done they're great conversations with interesting people about interesting things. And since there is no such thing as good talk radio anymore I really love listening to them driving since it takes me an hour to get anywhere. Do you have favourites or any to recommend? I'm all ears. (Punny!)


I've been a human kleenex this week, or at least that's what my husband calls me. The kids caught some kind of cold, one of those annoying kinds that make them just sick enough to be miserable and have a constant stream of...nose moisture. Carrying the sad babies all day makes every part of my attire a convenient kleenex for them. I went through two sweaters yesterday, and was a very alluring and attractive sight by the time my husband got home. The thing is it doesn't even phase me. I've passed a point of hygiene no return!


Have you voted for your favourite G.K. Chesterton post from last weekend's Weekends With Chesterton at Amongst Lovely Things?  I'm fairly certain the voting is still open today. There were some really wonderful Chesterton posts that are worth reading. And if you can't find a favourite you can always vote for me! 


Some links that were interesting this week:

Nuns in literature and other writing from the Guardian.

Faith and freedom in the Ukraine.

9 of the most beautiful buildings we've ever torn down. But I'd argue about that Federal Building in Chicago, I'm not a fan.


Well, I'm warning everyone that I think I'm going to attempt Jen's Seven Days of Writing challenge next week. Why I can't remember what she really calls it I do not know and I apologize. It's a good challenge for me who never feels like I have good enough ideas to write about and then when I have them usually trash them because I never have more than ten minutes at a time to flesh out a topic. I'll save all my boring minutiae for you next week - get excited! 

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Five Favourites - Five Favourite Ways to Beat Endless Winter Edition

Aloha, ladies!

I'm thrilled to be hosting our favourite quintuples this week while Hallie preforms many works of mercy for her beautiful children. Let's all say a prayer that the stomach flu never visits anyone with small children ever again.

Today I'm sharing 5 Ways to Beat Endless Winter. While I'm no expert, oh wait, I live in Canada - I am an expert! - these are just some little ways that make winter a bit more...endurable?


Bright Lipstick

And I'm talking bright. Reds, bright pinks, or possibly your darker plums and corals. Just not your usual lipgloss or nude. Now, I know that makeup fashion for the past few years has been all about the nude lip, but unless you're on high definition tv for hours at a time it really does the average woman no favours. But put on some gorgeous red, or a happy bright pink, and instantly your pale face looks better and brighter. Not to mention your mood substantially brightens up as well. It's fun to wear at home when you're snowbound and can't escape while making you feel fancy! The way I look at it is we're all not getting any younger, and life is too short to not wear some pretty lipstick!



Nope, not just wine, an actual bottle of bubbly.
 There are pretty good affordable champers out there. I'm fairly partial to the Martini, a not too sweet Italian number that's excellent for celebrations such as "You Lived Through Wednesday". Get it really cold, and pop the cork one weekday evening with your beloved after the offspring have conked out. It's no hotel room away, but it makes for a little evening for the middle of the week.


Some Kind of Dance Video Game

This tip comes courtesy of my 16 year old, much cooler sister who received Just Dance 2014 for Christmas. She's forced me to play this game with her since then, and let me just tell you, you may feel and look like a complete idiot but it's a lot of fun. You get to dance ridiculous choreography to ridiculous pop songs all the while burning off calories and anger stress. It's also perfect to just pop on while the kids are napping (I can't vouch for all the dance moves/songs being appropriate for kids) and have a couple moments that just clear your mind, get you moving, and have a good laugh at yourself. 


Do something out of the ordinary!

I don't take this advice as much as I should, but when I think of what perks me up the most in the winter it's doing something that I don't do normally. This may come in the form of going to the gym, making it to weekday Mass or Holy Hour, going for a coffee date with a friend or your husband sans kids, or possibly just going to Starbucks by yourself and looking off into space for 20 uninterrupted by-toddlers-and-their-bathroom-issues minutes. (Oh? Is that just my idea of fun?)

Or it might be to have someone over for dinner. Going for a pedicure. Baking. Reading more. Watching more British television. Just purposefully give yourself the permission to do something you wouldn't normally have in your schedule and enjoy it!


Get a package in the mail

I know this can sort of come off as buying happiness, but sometimes if you can afford it, even just enough to get free shipping from Amazon, a package in the mail is one of life's greatest small joys. There's something exciting and almost mysterious about an unopened package coming in the mail. Especially when it may be a little treat you bought yourself weeks ago, or two days ago from Amazon. A little treasure from Etsy or Ebay is always a great pick-me-up. Of course, it's not quite perfect as none of them have yet figured out that the best packaging is brown paper tied up with strings.

I hope that helps if you're like me and still in the icy throes of a long, long winter! Remember, one day we'll be complaining it's too hot, right?

Give me your top five this week! And remember, only the Canadian spelling for "Favourite" is acceptable this week!  ;)

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The Catholic Subculture is Cooler Than You Think

There has been some recent opining and criticism concerning the Catholic subculture of orthodox and faithful Catholics which I've found baffling. I know a thing or two about the Catholic subculture, and far from being a small subset of society of which we should be ashamed, it has become a vibrant, supportive, engaging, and vital community of people who not only fully profess all the teachings of the Catholic Church but also aren't hiding from the world and instead sharing the joy of faith.

There may not be many of us Rome-lovin' Catholics statistically, but what numbers we have cannot be so stereotypically shoved into the bin of judgemental, overrun-with-children, backwoods types who cling in darkness to our Baltimore Catechisms while tossing holy water at tv sets. The times have been a-changing.

As a cradle Catholic who was homeschooled, went on to attend itty-bitty (but wonderful) Catholic post-secondary schools, then married and had five children, I feel I've seen the full spectrum of the faithful Catholic subculture. It has developed and changed for the better since I was a child and was one of the only kids I knew who was practicing any type of faith AND homeschooled. I've witnessed a culture that thought sheltering their family from "the world" was the only way to develop faith to the culture of my generation which seeks to embrace the good of the world while offering it so much better with the truth of the Gospel.

Today's Catholic subculture is one of engagement with each other and with those outside the faith. It seeks to deepen our own love of Christ while inviting everyone to take another look. There has been an influx of Catholic writing, websites, blogs, books, schools and ministries that ten years ago I couldn't have dreamed of enjoying. We're Catholics with a sense of humour, who enjoy the home while taking on today's faulty modern philosophies, and taking about fashion or politics.

When I look around at the Catholic culture of my generation I see one that is not bent on judging either those outside the faith or those sitting in the pew next to us, but one of encouragement, support, and joy. Those of us who have a strong orthodox faith believe out of a passionate personal conviction either chosen from being brought up in the faith, or having converted upon investigating spirituality despite the tenants of the Church being so contrary to today's mainstream culture. My Catholic friends are not judgmental or puritanical because they eschew contraception and are stridently pro-life, they are compassionate and energetic in supporting life lived to the fullest. We're also trying to encourage one another in discovering new depths to our faith, how to incorporate the Church's liturgical year into our daily lives, sharing the triumphs and trials of family life and discussing moral themes of The Walking Dead and Arcade Fire.

We're not splitting hairs in judgement of how our fellow Catholics are using NFP, but we are talking about it for a change. We're talking about how using NFP isn't easy, how it needs a lot of grace, support and science; how it's ok to want a lot of children, and how hard it can be to experience infertility yet stay faithful to Church teachings.

We're not condemning those who don't understand the faith. We're engaging them. In the workplace, online, in the supermarket aisle when the checkout lady asks if all of those kids belong to us. We're in the culture in whatever form it wants to engage, because we're not running away to shelter ourselves, but trying to share the beauty of faith by just living our lives honestly, while not apologizing or hiding the joy it brings.

Great Catholic writing of all types is spreading throughout the internet and publishing. Many Catholic writers have become popular bloggers and have used their audience to attract publishers for books that can reach an even greater amount of people. With this example the hopes for bringing about more good Catholic art seems more attainable especially with new schools being formed and with the help of technology in spreading good art and connecting artists. It may take a while to trickle down to becoming better art in more places, but we're supporting beauty in our Catholic community and bringing it to others, by exposing our children to it, and maybe showing just our neighbours, coworkers or friends.

We may be homeschooling our children, but in case you haven't noticed homeschooling has gone mainstream. Many people are now homeschooling to further their children's education where traditional schools have failed, or to live a lifestyle that they believe to be more authentic to their beliefs; us Catholics are no different and simply want the best for our children, both for their education and for their souls to grow in the faith.

And while we may know a lot about the proper performance of the liturgy, we also know that denim jumpers aren't a dogma of the Church. We're a culture that seeks the goodness of a good beer, and loves to share a bottle of wine over a delicious meal while chatting about our favourite saints. We may bond easily with those who also profess a devotion to the Rosary, but it's out of a shared love for something greater than ourselves not a desire to further our clique or only befriend those who fulfill a Papist checklist.

The Catholic subculture of today is one that embraces the good of our world today while welcoming all to come take another look at the truths of a Church that changes our lives for the better. There is wonderful diversity of interests and talents in this subculture, a subculture that will only grow as we raise our families to know a big, beautiful Church full of Sacraments, devotions, and grace that the world so willfully misunderstands. We're not a self-centred bunch, we know there is so much more we have in common and face a culture so violent to our own that we must look to how we can support each other, and become what Pope Francis calls a "people who wish to share their joy, who point to a horizon of beauty and who invite others to a delicious banquet."

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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Belief and Broadening the Mind :: Weekends with Chesterton

I'm still reading Chesterton's biography St. Francis of Assisi, and this quote comes from a wonderful introduction to the world Francis lived in turned short history of western civilization that is the second chapter.

I think we can all relate to this quote from the many times we have a conversation with anyone in regards to faith or morality. Modern society today has developed almost a completely closed mind to anything the differs from popular opinion, even from what is reported in main stream media. The cult of cool, the fads of heresy that reign today are evidence of a closed mind. A mind that refuses to acknowledge different ways of critical thinking, different ways of believing. 

It is this closed mind to anything other than what is being told to them, or what their peers believe that so extinguishes a soul's thirst for truth. 

Chesterton immediately goes on to say something that I just love: "As a matter of individual belief, I should of course express it by saying that they are not sufficiently catholic to be Catholic." 

So many conversion stories begin, and in so many different ways, when someone started to think differently. To think beyond what their prior life experience or previously held beliefs. To begin to think differently and broadly opens the doors to believe

And so Chesterton delivers another zinger this time a perfect statement of the Catholic faith with it's inseparable relationship with reason.

Visit Amongst Lovely Things for more Chesterton, and Sarah is giving away a book this week too!

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Friday, February 14, 2014

Seven Quick Takes vol. 79

My weekly summation of seven randoms. Visit Miss Edel herself, author, and scorpion killer Jen Fulwiler for more!


Why do I insist on being so nice to these children and give them their valentine chocolates when they wake up in the morning?! Why do I still torture myself like this?! 

They all ate every chocolate I gave them before breakfast and are now all acting like horrible little terrors. I can say that because this is all my fault. Completely avoidable. But noooo, I had to be festive.

Happy Valentine's to me.


Well, this week was mostly frigid and awful out, but I didn't completely loose my mind other than the fact that my hairstylist never calls me back, which does make me want to loose my mind! Hey lady, I have no other option than you because I live in the middle of no where -- for the love of all things good just CALL ME BACK within a week , mmkkay?? Is that so hard?? Getting my hair done is one of the only things I've got to look forward to doing for myself in the foreseeable. Have mercy!!  Have mercy on me hairstylist!!!


Pheww. I bet that last sliver of sanity that I thought I had doesn't look too big to you right now does it?

This week I could not go to the bathroom without all hell breaking loose. And I'm not just talking about going to the bathroom and the toddler empties your tupperware drawers or a bottle of your powder foundation or the 5 pound bag of sugar or something. Because I let that all happen on an hourly basis and think it's no big deal. Because it isn't. So watch your Facebook statuses peeps!

Oh no, I mean I had 4 children become wild banshies in the mere moments it took me to go to the bathroom. They were supposed to be practicing their printing on their whiteboards, the younger boys were reading books quietly on the other side of the house, the baby was sleeping. I stole away for under two minutes only to be rudely interrupted by what can only be compared to a prison riot. Everyone screaming. Papers flying. It felt as if crowds were running for their lives but it was probably only two boys. So much noise. Baby awoken. Messes made. Probably some injuries. And that happened like three times yesterday. 

Homeschool win.


I'm getting all fancy and baking my favourite chocolate cake today. Baking feels like a luxury, I just never seem to have time to pull it together and bake. Which is sad because I like it. I sometimes bake with the kids, like cookies the other day, but I don't have to tell you that it kinda ruins whatever enjoyment you used to have from the baking itself. Then if I get two minutes while the kids are sleeping, baking just doesn't seem as appealing as say, having a shower, reading my blogs, writing a blog, eating chocolate...

I don't even want to hear the words "date night". I'm too far gone from any remembrance of what those are that the mere utterance of the phrase makes me break out in hives. So I'm going to stop talking and hope that if you're are going out with your husband tonight to have a wonderful meal together, maybe some silence, maybe a film, then do enjoy it on my behalf! We'll be home eating cake. And I plan on putting a bottle of champagne in the snowbank on my deck. So -- romance!


I've been thinking all week about how it's been a year already since Pope Benedict's resignation. It seems absolutely bizarre to think that so much could have happened in a year and yet a year is not long enough to fully understand what a monumental decision it was for the Church. 

I just wonder what Pope Emeritus Benedict thinks of it all. And of the Church and of the world. Wouldn't that be interesting to just know all he knows?? I have a very un-theologically sound idea that Popes have a special hotline with God which allows them to know more than most anyone else. I guess that borders on the gift of prophecy, but I just firmly believe they have a much great conception of how the world really works on a spiritual level. 


Luke said earlier this week when I gave him a specially decorated store-bought Valentine heart cookie - "Oh, look! Jesus' heart is all better!" You know you have a Catholic kid when... Apparently he really has a devotion to the Sacred Heart I was unaware of.

And in other child news Max, my stubborn verbalist, has decided "bad" is a word he's alright with saying. A lot. He especially enjoys yelling it at the top of his lungs when I stop him doing something, anywhere we may be. It's such an adorable trait.

Gemma's been singing Disney songs all week but with completely mixed up lyrics. This drives my very conscientious and particular Dom bonkers and endless fights ensue about the correct words to Part of My World. It's a joy. I'm actually really tempted to video the whole thing because one day I'll laugh about it. Won't I?


The best news of the week of course is that I officially have a ticket to Edel
I am trying to keep my enthusiasm in check, because it feels way too good to be true, and way too fun for me to actually be attending! Honestly, if you asked me what a dream event would be this would be it. And I'm just so excited that there's a fancy hotel involved I can't even tell you. There are few things in life I enjoy more than a great hotel, and a great hotel on a child free weekend! I love that I'm going to be meeting so many wonderful people I've been talking to online for years, and be in the presence of my blog idols! I am already practicing not saying stupid stuff. 

Ok, back to keeping my enthusiasm in check.

Hope you all have a wonderful, romantic weekend! Its a long weekend up here, so things should be golden and warm and full of chocolate! 

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Catholic Bashing and The Husband's Secret

Isn't it frustrating to be reading a book and to happen upon a slipped in remark that negatively portrays Catholics or Catholicism? It can be offhand comments from characters, or descriptions of characters, maybe a character's reaction to something, but it can be frustrating when it's without merit. I understand if a character's anti-Catholicism is built into a awful character's personality, or maybe a character is being described as a lapsed Catholic, but what can be really infuriating is the author slipping in their own bigotry or small axe to grind against the Church into the overall narration of a story.

I'm not pretending that this shocks me. In our society the most common form of polite slighting and snubbing is towards the Catholic Church and Catholics. It's just plain socially acceptable. I usually don't let it ruin a good book or story. One comment here or there by a character, I'll let it slide. I tend to think of myself as not quite that uptight.

But I recently read The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty, and I couldn't ignore the repeated slurs against Catholicism or the many negative connotations. I read this book because I enjoyed her past novel What Alice Forgot quite a lot for a book that I would classify in the "chick lit" genre, it had an original storyline, an interesting portrayal of marriage, and left you pondering the truths of marriage, personal behaviour and happiness. This follow-up had plot lines similar to the preceding novel in that it explored three women and their marriages and families in a way that loosely brought all three together. Secrets and past sins become exposed and the consequences have to be dealt with. But everything I enjoyed about What Alice Forgot went horribly wrong in The Husband's Secret. The storyline seemed tired, the characters shallow, the ideas of marriage all wrong, but what really got me was the digs and jabs at Catholicism chapter after chapter.

All the characters were described as Catholic. But not Catholics who went to Church. Or actually had faith. That isn't even my description, that's how the characters were described. The trappings of Catholicism, like Mass attendance, sexual morality, and conscience, (I mean, ick, Catholic guilt, ick!) were all mentioned as if they were archaic structures of a medieval society they looked down upon at every opportunity. That is, of course, other than sending all their children to a Catholic school, which had clearly nothing Catholic about it. Just your basic lapsed Catholic stuff, really.

But as I read I couldn't help but feel as if the author was lazy. Each main character felt the same way towards Catholicism, had to be described that way, or the impossibility of prayer or even belief in God being strewn across interior dialogue with abandon. I can understand if one character had such prejudices against the Church, but to have every character described the same way chapter after chapter reeked of a personal attitude belonging to the author.

I finished the book but because it turned out to be mediocre and it couldn't save itself from it's shabby treatment of my faith. It left me thinking of how Catholic culture as viewed by mainstream society is actually lapsed-Catholic culture; full of personal affronts, misunderstanding of Church teachings, and no actual knowledge or experience of real faith. The sad fact of the matter is that maybe the majority of readers will relate to the biased, and misrepresented ideas surrounding Catholicism just like the characters of this book. Lapsed Catholics, belonging to the Church in name only, seem to outnumber those of us who are faithful and living the faith.

I know this is anything but new. But it's disappointing when a writer becomes displays such intellectual laziness in the depiction of a faith, instead of developing more aware characters. I guess when you think about it, the more disappointing fact is that there is a lot of people who have never investigated or been exposed to the real beauty of faith and so settle with making fun of what they do not understand.

(What We're Reading Wednesday will have happier reviews!)

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Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Love of St. Francis :: Weekends with G.K.C.

I had to pop in with a little Chesterton for the weekend!

I've just started Chesterton's biography of St. Francis, this quote comes from the first chapter of the book where he is acquainting the reader with how he wishes to approach St. Francis in the book and how he wishes the reader to open his mind to the mysticism and faith of St. Francis.

I find this quote to be a perfect summation of how saints live. We, and the world, assume there is a vague, existential idea or philosophy which spurs saints onto holiness and greatness, but it is not vague and impersonal. It is a personal, passionate love of a person, Christ, which transforms a saint's life. 

I also just love when Chesterton describes people as lunatics! It's just a wonderful, whimsical way of describing those who live in a way secular society completely misunderstands. 

Chesterton wants the reader to enter into the great romance of St. Francis - a wild, passionate love for Christ just like the romance of poets and troubadours. 

(Visit Sarah for more Weekends with Chesterton!)

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Friday, February 7, 2014

Seven Quick Takes vol. 78

Happy Friday is here at last. Here's my paltry contribution to Seven Quick Takes over at the great Jen's.


Ah, Friday. I'm glad you've come back around. I'd be a little more excited if it was a weekend where I wouldn't freeze off digits by venturing out of doors...but, that's arctic living for you! 

We're puttering around the house today so far. The kid's have been doing puzzles galore, some valentines, some whining. I've been doing dishes. Try and hold back your amazement. 


I've decided that when Nora finally sleeps through the night I'm going to buy myself a present. At this stage of the game, being awoken by a starving infant for almost the past seven years has gotten all sorts of old. I'm losing any impetus to get up, other than the extremely loud screaming of course. I need something positive! Something pretty! Something special as a little carrot for digging deep and mothering my children. 
Yes, I understand, it sounds completely ridiculous. But I've decided it'll help, and also I need a new handbag. 
So, since Nora has been my toughest infant-nut to crack in the sleep training department I'm predicting that sometime in the summer I'll be able to purchase something like this:

But she might exercise her dramatic diva-ness and hold out into the fall, in which case, this:

And so help me, if she's not sleeping by then I'm going to have to go out and buy myself this:

I may be getting ahead of myself a little.


Fun story. And by fun I mean painful. Nora bit me while nursing for the first time the other day. Like bit a chunk out of me. She's only got two teeth but they're razor sharp. It was horrible, there was blood, there was screaming and gnashing of teeth(me), flailing(her), and the scab is still there and not quite healed, so you can imagine how fun that is to nurse with. But then I figured out that it was St. Agatha's feast day. I'm not sure if that was like a little "rose" St. Agatha was sending me down from heaven or what. St. Agatha was a martyr who had her breasts cut off by a sword. I was thinking about that fact for about 20 seconds when I said, "Ohhh, heck no!" and "Wow". Moral of the story: I definitely couldn't be martyred that way.


Parenthood watchers? I'm still slogging away through Season 2. I'm probably making such slow progress because the only time I get to watch it is when I'm on the elliptical and, well, I'm not on there too often. But last night I watched a couple episodes and is it just me or is this season slow? I'm so tired of Sarah gaping at her teenage kids, and Crosby not having a clue, and Adam and Kristina being so tightly wound! Does it get better? Should I keep going? Important questions!


I'm going to force myself to hang some pictures today. These walls that I've been looking at for days on end are starting to get to me. I just need to find some time...and a hammer!

The other to-do list I've got going on is to do something with all my pictures! I'm about 9 months behind in editing, let alone printing. It's so daunting. But I also really want printed pictures/books. It's a vicious circle of inactivity and wanting.


I've lost all will to cook. Or ambition to cook. Or desire to cook at all. Of course I blame winter, and January, but I usually at least have cravings which force me to cook because I love eating. But I'm not really craving much these days other than chocolate. 

The weather of course makes me want to cook only chillies and soups. 


Since I've been so entertaining thus far, you deserve to read some better stuff. Here goes:

Jenna wrote the greatest post on Stay at Home Mom fashion for everyday, right here on mah blawg.

Kelly had a wonderful roundup of Dorothy Day that I loved.

Susan from Sole Searching Mama wrote wonderfully about marriage. Worth the read for sure!

My homeschooling hero Sarah wrote this awesome and true post about curriculum and homeschooling today at Simple Homeschool.

And I think that's all folks. I hope your weekend is warm and toasty!

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Journal of the Longest Winter

Day 354 of Winter 2014.

February 5, 2014

Dear Log,

It's Thursday. The fifth consecutive day of -20 C temperatures with a windchill around -30 C. I've been outside long enough to run to the car, run into my mom's house, run to the car, run back into my house, and curse in that time. The kids even less.

The walls are slowly closing in bit by bit, day by day. I wonder if I would have known it was Thursday without my iPhone app alerting me to Friday appointments for tomorrow. The days have become so similar, my mind so fuzzy.

If there had been no sunshine today, I'm not sure if I would have made it out of bed, or at the very least off the couch. We must grab hold of these small inspirations so as to not lose hope. Our spirit must not be crushed. I now speak of myself in some vague collective plural.

Here are some of the pressing events of these days.

I feel like I'm feeding people all the time. Not really a change from anything, but now I feel as if it's all I do. Feeding the baby multiple times a night. Wake up to starving toddlers and children who now have full vocabularies and the ability to dictate demands. As soon as breakfast is cleaned up, and I feed the baby, someone wants a snack. Five minutes later another someone wants a snack. On and on and on until I call a moratorium on all eating and declare a day of fasting. Until lunch.

Thanking God my kids are healthy. Thankfully I can get up and make food for them. I'm not feeling awful like a couple weeks ago, I'm not nauseous and pregnant. I'm not chronically ill and can easily get around and quickly procure them something - even when I'm not cranking out gourmet grub. 

Are they gathered around a giant bag of rice crackers at 9 am? Why yes. It brought at least five minutes of almost silence.

So many fights! I'm sure a small altercation seems to arise every five minutes. Toys. Games. Fighting over who can live in the treehouse they see in the Backyardigans. Arguing over who can sing the song they just made up. Add that to the two year olds tantrums and it's a barrage of noise! I spent twenty minutes trying to put the cream cheese on Max's cracker just the way he wanted yesterday before I completely capitulated, gave him the whole container and let him dip 5 crackers in it at once. I didn't even feel bad about it.

Thankful for the fact they have siblings to entertain them. They play with each other to the point they don't like to be away from the action if they hear it somewhere else in the house. It's really a good thing. Maybe eventually they won't fight as much?? And Max will learn to talk eventually....right?? One day he'll talk and I'll forget that he was a fluent communicator using only grunts, taps, and 3 words to get by swimmingly. 

I don't even remember what he was mad about.

The more noise the more I figure out how small this house is. I think a house with at least four wings, maybe four levels, would be great. Imagine separating each screaming baby at least a floor away from where I was for just a little break! You'd think people in Canada would have figured this out about 50 winters ago and built houses conducive to life lived completely indoors for 6 months of the year!

So thankful for a heated house. For not worrying about the heating bill. For not having to go outside everyday to take my kids to school, because if I wasn't already dedicated to homeschooling in principle, that practicality would push me way over the edge, or my kids would go to school in September, October, April and May. I'm lucky to work indoors on days like this when my dad is outside feeding cows for a good 6 hours everyday no matter the temperature, or my husband who doesn't know if he'll be needed to work outside or not on days like this. And our house is cozy.

Deeply confused about what season it is.

I'm all out of patience this week. School has been done pretty well by us all, but I'm starting to fray! I can tell I'm about to lose it if they start to guess at reading a word. The crafts are getting a bit out of control. Let's colour. I clean up. An hour later, play-doh. An hour later, Valentines. An hour later, colouring. More books. More reading. More tv. Repeat.

I honestly forget how much crafting and colouring and reading goes on in the wintertime. I remember feeling bad last summer that not one kid had touched a crayon in weeks and that I was stifling their creativity! But, I guess it is true that to everything there is a season. I'm hoping that this influx of activities sustains them in the warmer months when we hardly do any at all!

Colour faster, colour stronger!

I got to escape. I've got to get even just to my mom and dad's house for a couple hours to get a little variety. It's so cold it takes maybe 10 minutes to get everyone bundled enough for the two minute car ride. Of course getting them bundled is a logistical conundrum. You can't get Max dressed too soon or else he'll take everything off by the time everyone's ready to go outside. You have to pick whoever is the least whiney to get dressed first because by the time I've got the baby bundled up they've got a good sweat going on. So much effort. I should offer up this chore because it kills me! KILLS ME! At least at my mom's bigger house the boys can run in circles for an hour or so and burn off some energy. So loud. But I'll take it?!

Dressing five babies seems a herculean feat sometimes. I should be happier just taking my time and not try to rush rush rush like I always do. I wish I could adapt a kid's sense of time. So relaxed, never worried, moving along with everyone when the time is right. 

Random adorableness.

Oi. The forecast is the same frigid temperatures till next Thursday! Why?! Why?! It's getting to feel like a marathon. And if you knew how much I hate running you'd know how rough it feels! The being around my children for all the minutes of the day! There is someone always touching me! Always talking to me! I think I need a detox, or a hermitage. I'm checking my stores of wine and chocolate right now to see if I can last that long!

But really, these days are the definition of mundane. And the mundane is where life happens. They're the days where your kids make memories of what life was like in their home. It's where you love them when it's boring. It's the tough grind where the work goes in. It's the days that creep by where you somehow get by on grace and a prayer. I know I'm not getting through them perfectly, but I hope I can make it through them with a bit of sanity left over. Fingers crossed!

Is this Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real? It feels kinda crazy, depressed, ranting, and real, but I'll link up anyway!

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