Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My Guide to Perfect Summer Reading

I love summer reading.

I don't know if its from our Canadian summers being so short, but what I read in the summer seems to enhance how I feel during the beautiful heat, while the gorgeous weather leaves vivid memories of the books I've read on hot summer days. And since summer is but a brief burst of beautiful weather here, I feel strongly that summer reading shouldn't be wasted! No dreary memoirs, no modern novels of relativism with unsatisfying endings, no trendy (but boring!) non-fiction. Summer days should be filled with books that are enjoyable for their own sake, fun, and leave your soul feeling refreshed and dare I say....happy!

So here's my top commandments for summer reading, you won't regret trying them!

An Agatha Christie does a world of good!

Mysteries are really the most entertaining genre to read. The reader is purposefully engaged in the story, dared to discover what the author has hidden. At the same time there is something of infinite comfort in a mystery and knowing that the evildoer will be discovered and found out, problems will be solved, answers found.

For those who have only heard of Agatha Christie but have never read her, YOU'VE GOT TO READ HER! Yes she's very popular, but I find that because of her huge popularity in the past, people now assume they know how Christie writes when they just don't. Her mysteries are masterful not simply formulaic, and her characterization skills are amazing, intricate, and realistic. Plus, the small world of the English country estate or quaint village where Christie usually sets her mysteries are so charming and a great fictional world in which to live, unless of course you're the murder victim!

Some great ones to start out with are: A Body in the Library, Murder at the Vicarage, 4.50 from Paddington, and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.

If you've enjoyed Agatha Christie in the past then you must try the other Queens of Crime writers such as Margery Allingham and The Fashion of Shrouds, Ngaio Marsh's Vintage Murder, and Dorothy Sayer's Clouds of Witness, to name but a few by these great authors.

One P.G. Wodehouse a year!

A beloved biology(?) professor once told me that every Catholic should read at least one P.G. Wodehouse book a year in order to keep a sense of humour. There is really no better way to preserve a sense of the absurd than to read a P.G. Wodehouse, any P.G. Wodehouse! His wit and writing are absolutely crisp, his wordplay unmatched, his characters hilarious! You'll laugh and you'll love it.

And it really doesn't matter which book you read although Right Ho, Jeeves, Quick Service, and The Luck of the Bodkins are all great, I've never read one I didn't like...a lot!

Go Back to a Classic!

There is just something blissful in sitting and reading an old favourite during the summer. A Jane Austen is perfection while sitting on a blanket in the shade of a huge green tree, or lying on the beach. Or how bout Anne of Green Gables on a long road trip/plane ride? Summer is also a time where its nice to slow down, and step away from the contemporary novel as well as the rush of our usual schedule, and ease back to a classic that stands the test of time.

Everything Jane Austen is perfect for the summer. (I read Persuasion on my honeymoon, and have wonderful memories now whenever I read it!) If you haven't read Elizabeth Gaskell you must. And as soon as possible. Wives and DaughtersCranford, and North and South are all excellent Gaskell novels!

And a Little Junk Food!


And finally, just to top off your summer reading with a little not-so-real-whipped-cream-like-product, I think you have to read a little junk. Some chick lit, some cheesy romance, some silly paperback. If you're in the mood for a little Mauve Binchey, Nora Roberts, Emily Giffin, Nicholas Sparks, etc. you've got to fit some in or else summer just wouldn't feel like summer.

Reading some junk in the summer gets it out of your system for the rest of the year when you only read wholesome and edifying works, right ;) ?? Summer goes hand in hand with the silly paperback from summers off from school when you needed a break from the huge tomes of literature you were being forced to plug through. It seems like an easy entertaining diversion, which isn't terrible when its a once a year habit.

So there you have it. What I believe every summer should be filled with; great books, great memories, an alcoholic beverage, and beautiful sunshine.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Monday pics

Monday has hit me most cruelly. 
So cruelly in fact I've reverted to speaking in a British accent.
Thus, pictures. Of random sweetness around the ranch.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Seven Quick Takes vol. 17

Heres my random for the week! Go see Jen, of course!


You know how I live in the middle of nowhere right? Well yesterday we officially began summer with the first naked jumping-on-the-trampoline-with-the-sprinkler session. Its a fan favourite around here. And its pretty hilarious to watch. We're talking a good 45 minutes of non-whiney bliss! Its all fun and games until someone pees on the trampoline of course...


Its the Feast of St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher today! They're ridiculously bad-ass for saints. It couldn't have been a good time to stand up to Henry VIII over a woman. And of course today is the beginning of the Fortnight for Freedom in the States. And I'm praying for you guys-because I've read Mark Steyn and am completely aware that once the States goes down we're all hooped. Although, you really don't have to look far here in Canada to see how the freedom of religion is getting stomped on. But I won't rant...


This has been everywhere the last couple weeks but I have to get on board the Everyday Food daily video bus. They're really quite good, and the recipes are really quite good. This one is my personal fav of the week, we're big brunch people around here, and I'll eat anything with peanut butter! 


Speaking of St. Thomas More,  I'm reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel right now and all I can say is "wow". Its definitely not A Man For All Seasons! Its intense, and beautifully written, and I love this time period. Its also about 600 pages and at the rate I'm able to read it's going to take me months to finish which makes me sad, but happy at the same time, its one of those books!


Is it anathema for a homeschooler to admit a strong dislike to A Man For All Seasons? As someone who was home schooled I was inundated with A Man For All Seasons for years. Apparently its one of 10 approved Catholic movies, the play is approved Catholic reading, and before you know it you've watched A Man For All Seasons at least once a school year for about eight years running. It just brings to mind the darkness of the movie., And I'm not talking figuratively or story wise,it was actually fairly dark feeling. As in not a lot of lighting was used in the making of that film. Or maybe it was just VHS? Plus it really made staying true to the Church a big ol' drag. But I may be wrong, I'm probably applying bad memories of watching it so many times to the storyline. Ignore me. 


I'm painting my dark entryway this weekend. We've put it off for the almost 6 years we've lived here because it would be such a pain in the ass to repaint. But I've grown tired of the dark cave of mauve. Its basically the worst entryway you can imagine. Its about 12 square feet and opens onto both the steps going upstairs and downstairs. I thank my children's guardian angels on a daily basis that no one has toppled head first down those painful looking laminate stairs into the the basement yet. First world problems eh?!


And I know this is supposed to be random but I can't let such an awesome G.K. Chesterton quote go unquoted: 

"Blessed Thomas More is more important at this moment than at any moment since his death, even perhaps the great moment of his dying; but he is not quite so 
important as he will be in about a hundred years' time." ~G.K. Chesterton

"Whoa" right?!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Prayer to Our Lady of La Leche

Haley recently mentioned her visit to the Our Lady of La Leche Shrine in St. Augustine Florida and I, for some reason, had never heard of this beautiful devotion to Our Lady! 

(Ummm, mother of 4 tiny babies with a slew of breastfeeding issues/experiences missing out on this great intercessor and comforter?! Tragedy!)

A very quick search brought up these beautiful prayers from that I just wanted to share for all my pregnant/young moms out there so you don't miss out like I obviously have been! They're gooders!

O Lord Jesus Christ, through the intercession of Your tender Mother, Our Lady of La Leche, who bore You close to her heart during those long months before Your birth, I place my baby and myself entirely in Your Hands. Free me, I beseech You, from useless and consuming worry. Accept the sacrifice of my aches and pains, which I unite to Your sufferings on the Cross. Above all, most merciful and loving Jesus, protect this child You have given to me from all harm, bestowing the health and vigor every baby needs. Implant in my heart and on my lips the words and prayers of Your Mother and mine, our Lovely Lady of La Leche. All this I ask that my child and I may live to praise forever Your Holy Name. Amen.

To You, lovely Lady of La Leche, and to your Divine Son, do I now dedicate this little baby whom our Father in heaven has given me. Grateful for the trust He has placed in me, I beg you to obtain for me the physical and spiritual graces I need to fulfill my duties at every moment. Inspire me with the motherly sentiments you felt during your days with the Child Jesus. Make it possible for me, in imitation of you, O Lady of La Leche, to nurse my child to perfect health. In all things help me to follow the example which you, as the perfect model of all mothers, have given to me. Let my family mirror the virtues of your Holy Family of Nazareth. Finally, I commend to your loving care all the mothers of earth, in whose hands He has entrusted the souls of His little children. Amen.

Monday, June 18, 2012

G.K. of the Day!

"THE supreme adventure is being born. There we do walk suddenly into a splendid and startling trap. There we do see something of which we have not dreamed before. Our father and mother do lie in wait for us and leap out on us, like brigands from a bush. Our uncle is a surprise. Our aunt is, in the beautiful common expression, a bolt from the blue. When we step into the family, by the act of being born, we do step into a world which is incalculable, into a world which has its own strange laws, into a world which could do without us, into a world that we have not made. In other words, when we step into the family we step into a fairy-tale." 

~GKC: 'Heretics.'

Friday, June 15, 2012

Bon Weekend!

Quick! Someone time-machine me back to this picnic! I may tell Mr. Unknown Stranger to do a little something with his hair...

I'm cleaning my house like a mad woman today as this week has been, well, not the greatest and I express my emotions by not cleaning. I've also got company coming for the weekend, and wanna make a cheesecake. 

Its the solemnity of the Sacred Heart today and I wish I could get to Mass. My excuse is the closest Mass is an hour away and starts at 6:30 pm. Yi. So I'll let all you highly educated peeps figure out how that timing goes over with four people under 5, and most importantly, their mother.

Have a wonderful weekend - pray that I get a few minutes next week to actually upload a photo!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Reviewing Bringing Up Bebe

To satisfy my strange curiosity for reading parenting books about stupid things parents are doing with their children these days I decided to check out the "controversial" book Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting.

As it turns out "controversial" pertains to certain aspects of parenting that the French have refused to compromise on like babies learning to sleep at night, children respecting their parents, and eating food at mealtimes. I doubt this is as controversial to those of you reading my silly blog as to American society at large. The French as described by Pamela Druckerman seem to come by this parenting wisdom naturally, if not effortlessly. It seemed refreshing to hear of a society where these basics of baby-rearing still seem so commonplace and natural, not contended and confused.

In amongst the telling of French secrets of sleeping, discipline and feeding small people, was the description of France's socialized day care program which includes drool worthy French food each day for the little tots. The food was described in such an amazing way I wanted to go to that day care! And although simply the idea day care makes me cringe, last week I think I would have enrolled all my littles if offered by these chic chic child care centres! The day care aspect was the main difference of opinion I had with the French style of parenting, as apparently a stay at home mom is practically non-existent. But most of the general areas Druckerman touched upon I agreed with in theory, if not try to implement to some degree myself, which was kind of surprising to me.

While I was reading this book the general theme that came to my mind the most however, was how strongly the "French" parenting culture seems to permeate French society. There seems to be little debate in France, there are base principles for child rearing and they are simply inherent and expected. It seems to stand in strong contrast to our general lack of any agreed upon parental culture here in Canada, and North America at large. We've lost out way in the basics of parenting principles by becoming so polarized and far from common sense in all our spoiling, catering, and chauffeuring of our children. At the very least we can take some relief in knowing that some Europeans still hold onto a basic expectation of decorum and behaviour in their children, and that those of us trying to raise our kidlets along the lines of common sense aren't entirely alone.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Reality tv and sacramental grace

My husband worked this weekend. So in my burnt-out-with-children-under-6 mental state and with no one to shoot me daggers for watching terrible reality television I watched some reality television. Most of it was pretty horrible without any redeeming features, kinda like processed cheese. But then I watched a little Bethenny Ever After...

The title "character" is Bethenny Frankel a former Real Housewife of New York who hit it big (and I mean BIG) after getting on camera by creating a low-calorie margarita alcoholic beverage sold by the truckload at a liquor store near you. She's always been forthcoming with her troubled childhood, mistakes made while an adult, and her own emotional problems. In the last two years she's married and had a child all on her own reality tv show, she thought she'd finally found her fairy tale ending.

The second year of her marriage is depicted openly on this season of her show. With the new windfall of wealth, beautiful baby girl, and the renovation of gorgeous New York City apartment, you'd think it'd be perfect television to just watch the rich enjoy the fruits of their reality show ship coming in. But instead the marriage is in serious trouble. Both Bethanny and her husband Jason confess to the camera how awful they feel about the other most of the time, how much they argue, how many issues come up that they can't seem to resolve or deal with. They recite these issues with precision. They've clearly been to therapy.

And yet they both repeat how they can't seem to move on, or let go of arguments, or acknowledge the problems the other has so competently expressed. How much of this is their real marriage or reality tv is unknown, but I seem to read this part of their lives as genuine. Usually on reality tv the arguments or marital issues are blazingly superficial or one-sided. Here it seems as if they truly want to work through their issues, which seem deep-rooted and legit.

Its heartbreaking to watch. You can't shake the feeling that although both sides are trying their best that its not going to work. And if it does work much real happiness won't be found. It seems as though they just can't get that little bump which pushes you to either love the other even if they're wrong in all their brokenness, or to love the other and humble yourself, to admit your fault, and be the loser of an argument. And then I thought, they don't get that little bump because that little bump that somehow gives you the superhuman ability to let go, forgive, submit, love is the sacramental grace of marriage.

Any person who has been married for even the shortest amount of time comes up against a brick wall that is the other person in the marriage. Stuff happens. Arguments over little things happen. Hurts and wounds from our pasts happen. Things that aren't magically explained away from the happy "in love" feelings that come when you're dating and going to the movies. And they may be there a long time. You wake up to them, eat with them, go to bed with them-your spouse and your problems. It feels impossible to let go, forgive, or even to just admit your mistake and apologize in an argument. Its agonizing and miserable. What makes us do the right thing then? Its supernatural. Not within us. Freely given grace that comes from the sacrament you live every day.

I guess while watching and thinking a little grace could go a long way in this relationship, I couldn't help but wonder if this is how God sees so many relationships. I'm sure it must be a little like yelling through a tv for God to work in marriages where he wasn't invited in the first place.  I for one can't imagine a marriage without the grace that nudges and bumps us towards loving the other and not living only to make the other miserable. It reminds me that a little sacramental grace that I don't usually notice goes a long way in my life, and theres probably a whole bunch waiting to be given.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Seven Quick Takes vol. 16

Thanks for stopping by, make sure to visit Jen!


I may be becoming chemically dependant on these chocolate covered berries/crispies.
My husband has been working late all week, will work through the weekend, and work late next week too. I may become a full blown addict by the end of this stretch of work.

It was a handful of these and the desperate plea of "Lord help me!" that saved the life of Luke last night after I discovered him pouring out smoked oyster oil all over the contents of my pantry.


I hope you all have read this article from Forbes saying that each woman on birth control should be paying $1500 more tax per year to pay for the environmental impact artificial birth control hormones are having on water supplies and thus fish. I like that awareness to what the pill does is being explored, but what about the health costs? The pill wrecks havoc on woman's health. Cancers, fertility treatments, etc etc. I bet those costs were be even more inestimable. How many more years until we face these facts?


Completely different note! 

Say hello to the marrying of two things I love: decorative plates and silhouettes! 
I love this craft, and if I ever have two minutes to devout to crafting and not drinking wine while my children sleep I may have to try it out!

And go visit Rebekah's dear blog. She just had her fourth beautiful babe!


We finally got the camera of my dreams! And now I feel intimidated to use it. Forward all your camera secrets to me, I desperately need them.


I just finished Catherine the Great by Robert Massie. I know, I'm totally weird for reading history for fun, but for some reason reading histories make my brain feel a little more exercised. And it only took me about three months to read!

I'm fascinated by Russia. It seems both mysterious and European. The tsars and palaces seems so glamourous and unbelievable. Catherine herself had a hell of a story. It really does take 500+ gigantic pages to tell her story. She was at the same time a totally lucky cinderella princess, and a self-made female ruler. Of course, an absolute monarch who didn't have a great love of independent Poland, a tense relationship with the Russian Church, a LOT of lovers, and millions of Russian people living as slaves for the rich aristocrats. But she seemed to a likeable personality and did more for art in Russia than anyone before or since. The book was very readable, and her story makes for a much more interesting read than most modern novels.


I was awoken this morning by the three amigos fighting in their room (yes, all three are in one room, its as wonderful as you'd expect, expect a full blown-out post in the future). It seems the youngest, who may be named Luke, aka the oyster can offender, decided to give his pajama shorts a soak in the full potty that is put in their room at night and then leave the sopping garment right in front of the door so the first person to open it would step right in it. Its like biological warfare. I went back to bed.


The lilacs have finally bloomed up here!! They're gorgeous and I've filled my house with a couple vases. I wish I could bottle the way my house smells right now. I love spring! 

Happy Weekend Everyone!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Misadventures of Max

I admit that its not unusual for my morning phone calls with my husband to end like this:

"Aw, crap I gotta go someones been drawing on the baby!"

When asked why he drew on his baby brother all I got in response was, "There was an orange marker." 

What else does one do with an orange marker?

I think he'll survive. Theres nothing like being the baby with three older, more mischievous siblings!

He's also the hapless new toy box when he's trapped in the swing.

Monday, June 4, 2012

G.K. of the Day!

"The place where babies are born, where men die, where the drama of mortal life is acted, is not an office or a shop or a bureau. It is something much smaller in size and much larger in scope. And while nobody would be such a fool as to pretend that it is the only place where people should work, or even the only place where women should work, it has a character of unity and universality that is not found in any of the fragmentary experiences of the division of labour. "

                                                 ~G.K. Chesterton, Illustrated London News, December 18, 1926.


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