Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Drowning my mothering sorrows...

Some days I have to swear to myself that I'm not trying to be terrible at this thing called motherhood.

Nothing terrible has happened to any of my children, not even anything really out of the ordinary. Nothing extraordinary has happened to me, nothing that would "trigger" anything even. There are no difficult circumstances that require heroic levels of mothering superpowers. And yet, here I am feeling uncharacteristically downtrodden about mothering in general and mothering one child in particular.

I do not understand how it can be possible to love a child in all his perfect-ness from his blissfully soft blonde hair to his chubby toes, to his hilarious way of pointing out what makes him happy to his enthusiastic heart, and at the very same time wonder if it will ever be remotely pleasant to live with him.

What I thought was a stage has turned into over a year of very loud, near constant tantrums and screaming. Although his communication is improving, I keep waiting and waiting for the day it isn't exhausting dealing with him.

I know, it's not constant even though it very nearly feels that way. I know his happy moods are wonderful and happen everyday too. But I guess when my mornings and days are filled with moving from one kids fight to helping another to settling another issue here to dealing with constant irrational toddler screaming to helping a fussy baby I wear a bit thin.

It's frustrating when all knowledge of child development and intellectually knowing that it's a two year old you're dealing with, doesn't help you love anymore easily when things get tough. My love turns out to be very limited and constantly succumbs to impatience.

It's so hard on hard days knowing you're not very good at loving. To know your kids are separate from yourself, outside of your control, even at the age of 2. You can't change their stage, or development, or temperament. This remains a truth throughout their entire lives, and will be encountered again and again in this life of motherhood.

Another day, another dose of humility, another cry for grace.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Mad Men Recap - Field Trip

Well, this was one of those episodes that proves that the words "Betty Draper Francis" are synonymous with "Horrible Mom".

Betty, Betty, Betty. Just when we thought Betty had discovered a little compassion in her life and view of the world in her new marriage and her struggle with weight, we now find her this season looking svelte, yet flashing that venomous glare while lunching with her suburban friend Francine. It's always been clear that Betty doesn't find my joy in being at home with her kids. She's not baking cupcakes with them or trying out the 1969 pinterest craft, she's letting the maid do the homework and the diaper changing while expecting her children to behave perfectly and understand terrible things like their parent's divorce and remarriage, and whatever other emotional upheavals they want to heap on them, without much maternal guidance.

But this week she volunteers to go with lil' Bobby on a field trip to a farm. Bobby appears to be in seventh heaven while soaking up undivided Betty-time on the bus to the farm, discussing his favourite monsters and even eliciting thoughtful responses. At the farm Betty is the cool mom when she volunteers to drink fresh milk straight out of the metal pail. It all seems like some solid Betty parenting until lunch and lil'Bobby trades away Betty's sandwich. In her signature cruelty Betty viciously cuts him down to size for making such a lapse in judgement by trading her sandwich for candy. He offers to get it back for her but Betty prefers the punishment of forcing Bobby to eat his ill-gotten sugar sans enjoyment while enduring her dagger eyes which are only slightly shielded by a pair of gorgeous sunglasses. Betty furthers her punishment of Bobby at home, blaming him for ruining a nice day out. Bobby's crushed face is heartbreaking as he says staring to his forlorn meatloaf "I just wish it were yesterday."

The crux of Betty is that she is so self-absorbed with such a deep wound of needing constant love and attention from others that she cannot even see that she may be required to love others in return. She asks Francis, "Why don't they love me?" She views her children as bottomless love ATM's, that must continually feed her need for love. She is so blinded by her own selfishness she doesn't even see the very obvious pain of Bobby after his precious time with his mom has been ruined. Matthew Weiner defends Betty a lot, and usually makes the point that we're just like her. And he's right. We are just like her in that we have the same human falleness that makes us see people as objects and in terms of how much they can give us, even if what they're giving is love. We all have the wound that seeks love, that wants to be filled; but this desire is never met when we're trying to fill it with other people. In another sense the American housewife of the 1950's would have been unfulfilled just like Betty if she was seeking constant affirmation and love for her children, using her children to demand they make her feel good at all times, looking to them as her sole source of happiness just like a stay at home mom would today. Again, it's difficult to see our own issues with these sins when January Jones has such an impeccable ability to be so cold, unfeeling, and biting. Betty is a helluva character.

This episode was played deftly between Betty's storyline and Don's. It has the effect of mirroring them and it played well especially because we could make comparisons to mistakes they both made in their marriage to each other, and how they can be put in new situations but still be unable to see what is really required of them.

Don again flies to L.A., this time at the behest of Golden Girl Megan's agent who reports she may need some extra babysitting because she's been crying in front of directors in the face of rejection. Don arrives at Megan's and then there is I-missed-you-sex, accusations, some father issues tossed around, and finally Don telling her he's effectively been fired. Megan doesn't understand the lying, but even more so that Don would be choosing to sit home alone and not live with her in L.A. and she tells him they're finished.

I'm not sure if this is the end of their relationship. Megan is clearly a worldly, capable woman who doesn't seem to be dependent on Don. She's also so smart when it comes to understanding how men work, and how to best use a situation for her advantage that I find it hard to believe she's having a tough time in LA even though I really, really, really want to her to be having a tough time. I thought Jessica Pare's acting this episode was some of the best I've seen from her. I don't even know if Don will attempt to fight for this marriage. Can he deal with rejection again after he took it so badly from the apartment mistress (I can't remember her name for the life of me.) last season?

Don flies back to New York with renewed energy to get back to work. Personal rejection and issues seem to propel him back to his job where he's fed his ego before. He even storms the tower of Roger Sterling who says he should just show up on Monday. But Don showing up at SC&P on Monday proves even more awkward than Betty in a pastoral setting with innocent farm animals around. Everyone is in shock Don would even show his face, secretaries are on damage control trying to find the partners, the terrible Lou is fuming, Peggy holes herself up in her office, and Don is forced to hang out with the underling creatives. It is a marvellously awkward situation.

All the New York partners aside from Roger seem to want Don gone. The only thing holding them back is being unable to buy out his partnership. Jim Cutler's plan to get rid of done completely seems to be put on hold, although even Joan seems to want Don banished forever. The partners come back to Don offering him a compromise of letting him come back to work but under really tough and almost humiliating circumstances. He's even going to be answering to Captain Mediocrity himself, Lou. This deal seemed so bad, on so many levels I was expecting a giant "F--- You!" delivered in Don Draper deadpan but instead he answers "Okay." I'm hoping that the sly twinkle in his eye when he spoke his answer means Don has a plan to come back with a vengeance. He worked his way up once before, and he now seeks some type of professional redemption at the office where he has spectacularly flopped in front of everyone. I really want to see some advertising bad-assery as Don takes back his reputation and his company somehow. It all feels as if I'm cheering for the anti-hero to become a traditional hero somehow. So that must mean Weiner is going in a completely opposite direction.

I liked how this episode is spinning everything and everyone around once again, and a new Mad Men will emerge.

Some quick notes:

  • Harry Crane is back. He is such an ass, yet he seems to be doing terrifically well. He's even telling Jim Cutler to take a hike. He seems to prefigure today's social media experts in being able to use numbers and perception more important than substance.
  • Joan - wow, not a lot of loyalty left for Don. He's been awful to her in the past, and his attempts to help her out have often come as too little, too late. But she was very quick to give him the boot.
  • Speaking of Joan's boots: She looked so good this episode, and her patterned dress with the large collar looked professional and a tad bit more trendy than Joan usually wears. Her boots were amazing.
  • Betty also looked stellar in every scene. The patterned dress and matching jacket she wore to the farm was a beautiful colour and looked like a million bucks. Although, it was so hilarious to wear to a farm. I also really liked the blue wrap dress she wore.
  • I was expecting Neve Campbell to somehow show up on Don's flight...
  • I enjoyed how Ginsberg and the other creative boys still seemed to both like and respect Don when no one else does.  
I'm off to enjoy some gum drops.

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Friday, April 25, 2014

Seven Quick Takes vol. 86

Yay! Jen's book comes out Tuesday!
And if and it's epically long delivery of pre-ordered items keeps me from winning a prize...


If spring has come to where you are please say hello for me, because the weather here is far from being okay. Easter Monday was warm, sunny and beautiful - just to taunt us with feelings of spring. Tuesday was very windy and not very pleasant. Wednesday rained/snowed the entire day. Yesterday no precipitation but dreary and not warm. Today; flakes of snow and a freezing wind. It all equals un-springlike weather. 


On the windy day this week we flew the kites the bigs got in their Easter baskets. They were twitter-pated with excitement, especially Gemma to whom kite flying must be a major item on the ol' bucket list. 
It went reasonably well, as I was helping three small children fly kites from the dollar store all at once. It involved a lot of running around on my part helping the kites get back off the ground when they would inevitably crash down, so I counted it as my workout for the day. And again I thanked the good Lord that I don't have any neighbours to witness my crazed flailing about chasing kites as three small people stood very still holding string.


I'm sure I'm the only one slightly jealous of those in my Facebook feed who are in Rome this week. Just a little. No big deal. 
Ah! What a wonderful weekend to be there and be present for such an exciting day! There's just nothing quite like the excitement of a big Church celebration. Like World Youth Day or a canonization, it's not like anything else. I wish I could describe it properly because this is a terrible job of it, but it really has to be experienced in person just once, then the rest of your life when these things happen you feel the same butterflies and joy springing up even though it's happening half a world away because it really is happening for all of us, everywhere. 
Thinking about how big and awesome the Church is makes me all goose-bumpy!


I've been wanting to write something about JP2 for a while now but the more I think about it the more I don't know how to put it into words really. It's hard to explain the impact of someone you grew up with and who was your first experience of saintly holiness. That's what I think of when I think of him. I saw him twice at World Youth Days, once in Rome and here in Canada, and even from the distance I saw him from, I could feel the physical holiness of the man. I feel that was my first impression of him from my childhood as well, before I knew of what really great things he did in his lifetime and before I studied his writings later, his holiness.

Later when I studied his writings I'm fairly certain that would be the point at which I as an adult realized and appreciated that the Church was it. It was the truth, it had the answer. His writings were so clear, so vivid, so inspiring in a way that you did not experience elsewhere. He expressed the truth in so many directions. It was as if in reading him you were pelleted all over with perfect nuggets of truth in an overwhelming way.  

Sunday will be a beautiful day.


I've also been meaning to mention this wonderful book on John Paul II that was sent to me by Ignatius Press. It's a very well done graphic novel that covers almost the whole of John Paul's life. The illustrations are really vivid, and the story of his life and faith is well presented. My boys are captivated by it already, even though I think it's a little old for them just yet, but for boys ages 8 and up I think it would be a huge hit! Dom and Luke are now talking about "the bad-guy-Nazis" and "bad-guy-communists" and I overhear them having arguments over when "John Paul became a bishop after the Nazis not before".  So I'm chalking that up for a homeschool win. 


There have been some great reads this week, here's some of my faves:

A Culture of Extraordinary - This was written by Stacy London from What Not to Wear, and as I'm a devoted fan to that show I had to read it, but I was blown away at how well written this essay is on fame, our social media culture, and how we should think about it. If you read one thing this week you've gotta read this.

The Madness of Matthew Weiner - I just read this article in The Atlantic on Matthew Weiner even though it's been out for a month. The guy is more intriguing than Mad Men. Which is saying something.

How Did Canada's Middle Class Get So Rich - So I didn't know we had the richest middle class. Although I'd say it's fairly evident in my area. If you've ever wondered the difference between Canada and the States right now this is a good summation.

The Last Woman Who Ever Thought She'd Have Five Kids - Kelly's post this week was so good! And so true for all of us who've had more than 2.5 kids and the daily comments. 


I had the most wonderful trip to the liquor store yesterday. It was the most relaxing part of my day and I wasn't even drinking any of the wares. Does anyone else go to the liquor store and end up staying for 30 minutes of blissful browsing? Is this a sign of a problem?? I had run out of wine on Easter Sunday so it was a necessary trip. I'm now stocked up on great beer and wine so come over for a drink! 

Hope you all have a great weekend!

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Mad Men recap - A Day's Work

It's Valentine's Day on Mad Men and there's secretaries and flowers everywhere.

This episode was full of hilarious scenes that echo a sitcom-like feel but also had a few tender moments that surprised me. The conference call was almost slap-stick funny, and Pete in Ted's office bemoaning his ladder-climbing impotence while Ted didn't even look up from his work was classic. I think my favourite line would be Stan to Peggy regarding 12 long stem red roses: "I didn't think your cats could afford it." There was a lot of Coffeemate floating around too. Which always grosses me out.

Out of the several themes explored in this episode I really enjoyed the secretary/boss relationships and how they contrasted the selfish, egocentric attitudes of the bosses to those of the maligned secretaries who have to navigate the office while maintaining their own self respect. Dear Dawn has it rough with the ever-more-nasty Lou. He is turning out to be a complete ogre as he is first completely unhelpful and awful to teenage Sally who came to the office just looking for her dad. He then unjustly reams out Dawn in front of Joan because he didn't want to have to deal with Sally or share Dawn with Don(so many Don/Dawns), even though Dawn was out using her lunch break to shop for his wife's Valentine's perfume. Dawn standing up for herself was one of those great Mad Men scenes where small triumphs in the office world are so satisfying.

Peggy meanwhile is having an awful Valentine's. She makes the misstep of assuming roses sitting on her secretary Shirley's desk were for her - and from Ted Chaough no less. She's at first flattered, then miffed, then spends the rest of the day obsessed/mooning about the disaster that is her love life. But Peggy then takes it out on Shirley making an uncomfortable situation for them both even more painful, accusing Shirley of somehow rubbing the flowers in her face, flaunting her engagement ring. In other words, trodding upon Shirley in a completely unprofessional manner just like Lou because she's so wrapped up in herself she's oblivious to another person. Peggy shows a painful pang of regret after losing it on Shirley; it's had to be tough to remember her own days of being a secretary, humbly serving Don and realize that she used to be in that same powerless position. To think of how sorry we were feeling for Peggy last episode, now here we're disappointed in her even though we know she's terribly lonely.

In the middle of the secretary drama is Joan, feeling the brunt of the miffed, immature egos of Lou and Peggy demanding removal of their hardworking Girl Fridays. Joan has dealt with this office-cum-preschool behaviour for so many years she is unsurprised but still revolted. She's trying to seamlessly address everyone's preferences even unto the point of Bert Cooper complaining about Dawn's presence at the front desk, his racism expressed bluntly in full buffoonery. Jim, who seems the only man who's caught on to the idea that Joan performs two jobs, offers her an accounts office upstairs and suggests she gives the tedious job of personnel managing to someone else. Well played Jim. Joan has been waiting for someone to finally see her hard work and will be more likely to help Jim out if/when his cunning Machiavellian plans ever play out. Joan moving upstairs brings about the other happy ending of Dawn inheriting Joan's captaincy of the secretaries and her own office. Yay Dawn!

Let's talk secretary costuming for a moment: Shirley's floral mini-dress and black patent boots outfit was amazing. I can't believe that was work appropriate in 1969, but she looked smokin'. Shirley is obviously very into trend and fashion. Her makeup is also a treat as it's pretty splashy for the office, it shows again the era of the burgeoning 70's where disco glam was everyday cool even at work. Joan is a redhead who looks stunning in red, her beautiful suit with sheer sleeves was another feat for Janie Bryant. Dawn dresses for practicality, and clearly isn't a fashion plate, but I found her big collar entertaining. The other secretaries in the office are all put in printed suits which are always interesting.

Pete played a comical counterpoint to all this, he's a bit rudderless this season as he is out in LA, (and only yelling at his secretary as he asks her about "the contraption"). He feels defeated and unappreciated by the New York office even though he's snagged a big account of car dealerships. His ego isn't being fed the way it has in the past which he lived and worked for his whole life on the east coast. He's still looking for the job and it's perks to give him satisfaction and personal worth. Of course, Ted Chaough thinks this is ridiculous and that's why he doesn't even look up from his desk during Pete's tirade, that or he hears it ten times a day. Pete keeps getting knocked around yet refuses to let go of what the world is trying to sell: that you can only find happiness in money, status, and power. He's got it all, even though he can't really move up in LA. He just seems to refuse to develop even a sliver of introspection as is seen in how he creepily tries to get his blonde realtor girlfriend to drop her open house for his hotel room.

Sally is back in this episode and I'm happy to see her. I've always enjoyed Sally, even through her bratty stages. (I want to grow up to be Kiernan Shipka.) You can say a lot about Sally, but growing up with her parents she has a keen nose for the truth and can't be fooled easily. In this episode she is forced to seek help from Don and he has to drive her back to her school. The painful car ride and conversation is difficult to watch, Sally's been dealing with Don's indiscretions for a while now and you can read on her face how it's been eating her up inside. Don at first attempts to lie again, loop around the truth, then challenges Sally's own behaviour which no longer has any pull with her. Her insight into how embarrassing his lies are clearly strike a cord with Don. Their dinner finally breaks the ice, and shows how Sally can identify the truth when she hears it and how she accepts the truth for what it is. Don also says how he wishes Sally didn't have to go to a funeral, another version of shielding Sally from the truth albeit less deceitfully. Don trying to dine and dash was a glimpse at how he can almost be a good parent when he wants to be. The heartwarming ending of Sally saying "I love you" to Don as she leaves was one of the best scenes this show has ever had. A beautiful glimpse of the real love Don has been fruitlessly searching for his entire life, and how tragically he has been missing it in the life of his children.

Bullet points:

  • Roger and Jim- Jim's buttering up Roger, but I doubt Roger is buying it.
  • Roger and Joan - He bought her flowers for Valentine's day from their son! Sweet! Hope for future??
  • Don - Watching tv all day trying to find inspiration while sharing his dark apartment with roaches. De-pressing. He's gotta get his groove back.
  • I need more Stan and Ginsberg!
  • Anyone got a crochet pattern for Sally's hat? Because I'm going to make it!
  • Does anyone miss Betty?

What did you think of this week's episode? I'd hate to think of you as an adversary.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Alleluia, it's Easter!

Happy Easter one and all! He is Risen!

I haven't peppered you with kid photos in ever so long, so buckle up, here's a little of our Easter weekend.

It snowed all day Good Friday. I'm sure we had over 6 inches. Completely white out and lots of heavy wet snow that was melting as it came down so we probably received more. So back out came the mitts and hats I had washed and locked up. And we tried to make some lemonade out of lemons, we build a snow bunny! Doesn't it feel like spring?

Holy Saturday we dyed eggs at my mom and dad's house with my brother and sisters. The kids have fully embraced this tradition and it is a big deal. Luke really hit his stride this year and was dying about a dozen per minute. 

Some of the finished product. My mom found those cute icon-like shrink wraps at a dollar store. Some were laughably photoshop, and some were actually very pretty. My sister and I were making Iconoclasm jokes as the kids accidentally cracked them. Because we're Church history nerds. 

Easter baskets on Sunday morning! The kids love that the Easter Bunny hid eggs full of jelly beans and chocolate all around the house to find. Nora was fairly impressed with the excitement.

I make everyone wear bunny ears. Gemma is already regretting this photo.

My siblings make another large outdoor Easter egg hunt for the kids on Sunday afternoon and it's unbridled happy chaos for them. It passes in a blue of running around and calling dibs on eggs. The snow melted completely Saturday, then yesterday it was raining and drizzling for most of the day.

We also ate a lot of chocolate.

Our only Easter Mass was Sunday evening at 5. The most un-Easter feeling time of day. I'm beginning to feel as if I live in Catholic dispersia. But we were all happy for Mass, and even though everyone had eaten their body weight in chocolate all day everyone was miraculously well behaved. 

Hope you're all having a blessed time of celebration, and remember -- Easter lasts 50 days so don't feel bad about eating more mini eggs!

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Finding Time to Read in the Nitty Gritty - The Bookish Mum

We're back talking about how to love reading and books as a mom, the first part of this series on why we should keep reading can be found here.

Now for the tough part -- actually figuring out when to read while you're cleaning up messes, nursing babies, containing meltdowns, and making supper in a haze of exhaustion from no sleep at night!

You don't need free hours - but stolen minutes add up faster than you think

Before we begin practicing new habits in our daily routine it's easy to believe we need to clear out empty blocks of time in order to do accomplish one more thing. But what happens more often than not is that we can accomplish and enjoy things even in small amounts of time. This is definitely a skill I've gotten better at since becoming a mom, and in some ways it necessitates a letting go of ideals of perfection we may have, and only tackling things we can finish properly.

We don't need to expect that reading requires endless free hours to devout to thick, impressive books. Sometimes all we can manage is to read five minutes here, five minutes there. Maybe instead of picking up the phone as the kids play outside we read a few pages of a novel. These few minutes add up to pages, then chapters, then books faster than we'd think. As little as ten or fifteen minutes a day spent reading can refresh your mind and see you through a good book faster than you'd think.

If we want to be successful at building a routine of reading everyday it's best to look at your day and the demands of your kids and babies and find the spot where it is typically easiest to get a couple minutes to yourself. Of course every day changes, and you don't have to read every day, but if the routine of reading is built into your normal day you'll find it easier to read and build the habit of reading books into your life. Just like in prayer when we turn our minds to God at regular times, our prayer life then becomes much easier, so too any other habit that we wish to get better. If a regular time of day allows you to sit, sip a warm drink, enjoy some peace and quiet (or as close as you can get) while reading you'll feel much more successful.

For many moms nursing a baby provides a good time to sit. If you're driving kids to and fro and have to wait in a car -- bring a book. Maybe you have a built in relaxation time of a hot bath after the kids are in bed-- that is a perfect time to read. Or those twenty minutes the kids are enjoying a little screen time could be devoted to reading instead of folding laundry. Sometimes we need to reorganize that chores come second to caring for ourselves when we have peaceful time in our day. There will always be laundry, but the precious commodity of quiet time needs to be spent in the way it serves you best. It's your best bang for you mama buck, so to speak!

These are just some ways to help you discover time you might not have thought of, but it really depends upon what suits you best. I get a little squirrely if I don't read even a little every day, I usually manage to fit in a couple minutes in the afternoon during my mandated quiet time for the kids while the babies nap when I'm not out of the house, but I always read before going to bed. I'm a major creature of habit and I've found if I don't read in bed I can't fall asleep anyway -- my nerdiness impacts my sleep.

Don't worry if you're not plowing through books at a harrowing pace. Sometimes it takes me months to finish a book, but the time spent reading it was much more rewarding than the end goal of a finished novel.

Read what you love with no guilt

I know most of us moms are brilliant. We've got degrees, we've got blogs, we've got past jobs where we worked circles around other people, we may still be working circles around people and so we feel as if we should be reading "Important Books" all the time. But the beauty of being at home, being our own bosses of our days (my two year old just laughed at me typing that), and being able to freely pursue what we love means that we can choose to use our reading time and our minds on what we find the most enjoyable, not just what seems practical.

Do you love young adult fiction? What about favourites from your own childhood? If you're a fan of mysteries or thrillers, then by all means start reading them! There's nothing wrong in giving yourself the time to relax and enjoy the light-hearted beach read or the science fiction you'll never admit to reading.

If we're going to feed our souls with the wonder and inspiration that comes from story, then reading should bring us joy -- not a feeling of burden. Choose to read what brings your heart happiness.

These tips aren't groundbreaking, but I think that these three ideas of appreciating the small, short moments we can use for reading, building a routine of reading into our day, and reading what we love are the easiest ways of picking up reading again or reading more as a mom in the midst of a busy day. What works best for you? Or, what doesn't work at all? I'd love to hear about your experiences!

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Mad Men Recap - Time Zones

Ok, here goes my wild attempts at a little Mad Men recap action.

I'm trying to block the idea of this being the final season from my mind, because I always feel that the season premieres of this show keep you on your toes as a viewer in such an exciting way. I love figuring out what has happened in the time since the past season, what's changed, and picking up on all the tiny hints the writers drop for us. This season is no exception with Sunday's premiere offering some changes, yet maybe not as dramatic of season premieres of the past. It was a very well written episode, doing what Mad Men does perfectly: combining the events of the office seamlessly with the lives of the characters.

This episode's opening scene was perfect, Freddy Rumsen is back and narrating an elegant, dramatic, even profound, new tv ad for Accutron watches. I love Freddy; he's such a hapless character that you enjoyed laughing at in his less than sober moments, but felt so sorry for when he lost his job a couple seasons ago. We then see that Peggy is on the receiving end of his pitch, alone in her office. Does this mean that Peggy is finally the head of creative while Don was forced to take a leave of absence?

Alas, no. Peggy is still down the totem pole answering to a new head of creative Lou Avery. He seems completely complacent, rocks a Mister Rogers cardigan, and is happy to go with what's easiest while not shirking the creativity Peggy pesters him towards during the morning meeting. He is patronizing and rude to his secretary, the wonderful Dawn. (I'm so glad Dawn is back, I love her a lot.)

Next in the office we see Joan and Ken. Joan looks perfect as usual, gorgeous deep purple suit that is both very workplace appropriate, perfectly tailored, and is obviously a little more expensive than past wardrobes reflecting her upward move in the company as of late. Ken -- poor, patch-sporting Ken Cosgrove, has become in charge of most of the accounts in New York thanks to Pete's departure, but the job is sucking the life out of him. He's cranky, angry, disgruntled. He's come a long way from his earlier poetry writing days of less responsibility and the clarity to see the hypocrisy of the ad game. The scene where he throws Joan's earring at her missing wide left was the funniest of the episode.

Joan though, hasn't moved into an official accounts position yet even though there's a huge need according to Ken. Boo! Joan gets sidled with a meeting with Butler Shoes for Ken which she jumps at, we then see her at the hotel where she meets a very young head of marketing (the son from Cougarland no less!). It's this meeting at the hotel where we realize how hard this job is for a woman. It feels awkward, and you can tell Young Butler Shoes thinks it could be borderline inappropriate to be seen with a woman at a table having dinner. He also wants to see Ken because he wants to fire them. Joan handles the awkward situation perfectly as only she can, even though it's really a disaster. Joan is so obviously the smartest person in the whole company, as well the most hardworking one. She quickly picks up on Young Butler Shoes wanting to flex his business degree chops and heads to meet with a college marketing professor whom she ends up schooling with her advertising and marketing wisdom. I love how Joan keeps looking at things from new angles all the time, learning everywhere she looks, and stacking experience for the future.

This episode's title, "Time Zones" is clearly speaking to not only the new bicoastal nature of the business, but also the disconnect of the various characters. No one seems to be united, or understood. Everyone is disconnected from everyone else in sad ways. There are many layers of this idea of disconnection and loneliness, but in no one is it as serious as Roger. Carefree, hedonistic Roger has rode the free love train full of psychotropic drugs to it's horrible conclusion; despair. We see Roger for the first time this season lying asleep naked in a room full of other naked people answering the phone of his daughter calling. He later meets her for breakfast where she offers him forgiveness for his past transgressions. He is non-plussed and unaffected and clearly doesn't care for this new age-iness his daughter is tossing around. When he returns home drunk to the naked woman in his bed he listlessly gets into bed next to her exhausted, while nonchalantly acknowledging the other naked man lying next to her. Roger's past of blatant sin has led him to the point where even the most shocking sins cannot shock him. He's in despair, yet he does not even seem to know it.

Finally we see Don Draper about 7 minutes in. The epic slow motion shot of Don outside the airport in the land of La La, followed by the bombshell Megan driving up in a sexy little car, slowly glamour-pussing her way to him in the mini-est of mini dresses was pure Mad Men glamour. We see a happy looking Draper couple -- what is going on here?! We go on to see Golden Girl Megan and Don meet her agent for dinner and the news of her getting a role on a NBC tv show, (because everything she touches turns to gold!), then Don helps her stumble home drunk to the house she has rented in the Hollywood Hills. I thought the little house creepy and dark and so opposed to the clean, cool, and minimally decorated New York apartment. The difference between early sixties and late sixtes decor, but not a change in the right direction. Megan remains the epitome of the "modern woman" and everything Don was previously trying to escape in his marriage with Betty. Megan even throws an issue of Playboy to Don before leaving for her acting class while telling him to not rip out ads from her magazines. But I thought this quick scene a perfect example of how the Sixties, with all it's promises of happiness by just casting off the shackles of morality, leave people empty. Don shows no reaction to the magazine being thrown at him. Not only has he followed the path of lust and immorality exemplified by Playboy and it's societal acceptance, but he knows fully that it brings no happiness at all, only loneliness and self-loathing.  As Don's experience shows, simply shaking off moral absolutes doesn't change the reality of what committing those sins does to one's soul.

But, all is not perfect with the Draper marriage despite appearances. Don has clearly let Megan believe he's still working, and that he's in LA for work. Megan feels that there is something wrong, and mentions that she's "nervous". Don stoically let's her believe all this. He has been lying to everyone for so long it is a natural state. I'm not sure if Megan still thinks he's the honest man she made him to be, but she's definitely not bent on finding the truth about him and their marriage. The bicoastal nature of their marriage cannot be helping and obviously they are not in the same time zones physically or emotionally as husband and wife.

Don meets with Pete in LA who is wearing sporty plaid pants with a sweater tied around his shoulders in what must be a laughable costume for 1960's California outside of a golf course. Don thinks he looks like a hippie, which only speaks to Don's refusal to bend to the era. Last season was an impetus for change for most of the show's characters and as Don knows he must change but hasn't come up with the answer of how to do it, Pete clearly, has refused to change. Pete is in his idea of heaven. The shallowness of LA is just what he's been looking for, while the the morals which require nothing of him, feed his lack of integrity to a tee. He shows Don the LA offices while a very perky blonde real estate agent/Pete-girlfriend comes in and talks neighbourhoods with them both. I can picture the tacky McMansion Pete is looking for already.

Don flies back to New York while chatting up Neve Campbell who wears a stunning wrap-around dress. And can we all just revel in the dream that is finding yourself sitting next to Don Draper on a plane for a moment? Ok, moving on. Don has a couple tender moments with this stranger on a plane who also admits to loneliness after losing her husband the year before to "thirst". As they land the woman casually mentions her car coming for her and some tawdry proposition, but Don shoots her down, unwilling it seems to pursue adultery like the good old days. Don may be realizing that the mistakes he keeps repeating are sins that pull him down further and further.

We then see Don in his apartment watching the Nixon inauguration with mentions of war and piece which harken back to the few glimpses of tv Don was watching at Megan's house mentioning Utopia and paradise. One can't help but sense that Don is beginning to understand that he's at war with himself. He desperately wants to live a life of truth but finds himself reverting back to past habits of sin unable to free himself and experience genuine happiness.

The best twist of the episode comes as Freddy Rumsen himself walks into Don's apartment and lets us know that Don is really behind his epiphanies of advertising genius. Don has his creative juices flowing once again, and appears to be working, wanting to gain credibility again at his own workplace albeit surreptitiously. Alone, Don shuns a bottle of booze and attempts to close his open balcony door. He fails, then morosely goes out onto his Balcony of Depression and ends the scene hugging himself as he becomes numb to the cold. No longer able to numb himself spiritually and emotionally with alcohol he can only attempt to numb himself physically out in the literal cold.

Peggy meanwhile has continued to suffer at work. Ted Chaugh shows his face from California and Peggy has an unfortunate encounter with him in the lunchroom at the office. Stan of course, sees her anger, but she has no time for him. Lou continues to be completely oblivious to her talent and refuses to reconsider his previous decision. She's frustrated by the neglect of creativity and integrity of the department. Peggy has also been dealing with complaints from her tenant. She may have freed herself from a bum of a boyfriend but she's still left with a dump of a house. The show ends with Peggy returning home to find her brother-in-law who had come over to help with repairs. He then leaves because he doesn't like to leave her sister alone in Brooklyn. Peggy closes the door behind him and collapses to the floor weeping bitterly in her utter loneliness to end the episode. I think I've lost count of how many times I've been absolutely heartbroken for Peggy over the course of this show, but this scene was gut-wrenching to watch.

The critics are tiring of Don's slow progression and inability to change. But when we look at Don's character from a spiritual perspective it's clear that he's trying again and again to find happiness and truth, but by himself and only through his own power. I still believe that Mad Men will end with Don's redemption of sorts, and it may be coming through these glimpses of self awareness and shunning of past sins that we see in this episode. I think it's a season off to an interesting start.

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Entering Holy Week

With Palm Sunday Holy Week begins. 

I love how the Palm Sunday feels so different, so holy.

And even through the wreckage that was Mass last night, including the "pom-pom" fights, the endless tantrums, the teething baby who didn't want to be held nor put down, the extended music, the long readings, and fielding 194 questions of "Is Mass over yet?!?", it still had the gravity of a liturgy of singular importance. Even through all the distractions so painful at times I thought it would be much easier to walk over hot coals than remain till after the closing prayer, the beauty of the Mass still got through to me in a simple, mysterious way. It is a momentous day, a holy week.

I'm always reminded of this poem by Chesterton once Palm Sunday rolls around. I like the drama of it, which to me is how Palm Sunday always seems -- dramatic. With Palm Sunday you can almost imagine how tangible the expectation and suspense of what was to happen next with the incredible man named Jesus. In this little poem, through a topsy-turvy lens Chesterton perfectly illustrates the unexpected which is something that Holy Week can never loose. 

Praying your Holy Week is blessed.

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Seven Quick Takes vol. 85

It's Friday, SQT-day, so visit Jen and the great posts over there!


It appears my baby has weaned herself. I don't know how the stars aligned but she just wasn't that into me for a couple days at various times, then just stopped. I have a love/hate relationship with breastfeeding, don't even get me started down that rabbit hole, but I'm happy she nursed until a year and I didn't loose my mind. I'm also not torn up about about her stopping either...yet...give me a couple weeks and some hormonal perfect storm will brew and I'll be in tears, because it's mandatory isn't it? I'm still completely unused to the idea of being able to be baby-free for more than three hours! What the what?! 


It's been blissfully spring-like this week. There are lakes of water in the fields all around our house, the kids have been in gum-boot, puddle-splashing heaven and I can smell spring. The cows have been tramping around on the actual ground as the snow glaciers have mostly melted. I even heard some meadow larks this week which has to be the first bird back and it sounds lovely. We may have snow this weekend, which makes me a bit frustrated that I washed EVERY piece of winter clothing for SEVEN people this if it does snow everyone will be going outdoors in sweatshirts and nothing waterproof. And I've stashed the mittens and toques under lock and key which are not to be touched until at least October. 


I'm in the midst of Children's Clothing Turnover. It feels like ridiculous amounts of laundry. I feel lame complaining about laundry again, but it is a bit out of control. Here in Canada we wear winter clothing, boots, winter jackets etc for six months but then BAM! its spring and you have to instantly completely change wardrobes. Or at least that's how I function which is probably equal parts misguided/anal. I've also been buying too much kids spring/summer clothes and now I'm making lists on my phone and officially cutting out kids clothing shopping. 


I don't know if it's the spring weather, the mountains of laundry, Nora's teething and waking up fifty five times the last couple nights, or the kid's endless fighting this week(someone tell me if I'm ruining my children because they're even fighting over imaginary things or things completely hypothetical and thus, a new level of driving mom crazy), but as soon as they're in bed if I sit down on the couch for "a minute" and then-- Bang!-- I'm a total write-off for the rest of the night. Completely knackered. Just watching Call the Midwife or Mad Men till I roll into bed at the late hour of 10 pm. 


It's my beloved husband's 30th birthday tomorrow!
30 should feel old right? I mean, 30 year olds should have their shit together and be adult all the time.  I don't think either of us feel that way, because having small children creates a humbling effect which questions your confidence and sanity on a daily basis, but we have built a life together, brought 5 beautiful children into the world, and enjoy our home together. I feel like these are really important accomplishments for anyone, and especially at 30.
I'm also grateful for his good job, and that he enjoys his career and takes such great care of us in every other way too. I'm overflowing with happiness that we've shared over seven years together and that I love him more now than I did when we got married.

We also danced to Rose of My Heart by Johnny Cash for our wedding dance. Because we're awesome. It was not for any deliriously romantic reasons (Katrina always wins for most romantic in my book), other than it was a beautiful song that we both liked and we wanted something timeless so we wouldn't be embarrassed of our 20 year old selves down the line. At least not for our wedding song! It's really a touching song and Johnny Cash is timeless and we try and listen to it every anniversary and then I'll cry a little. (You're welcome Grace, and everyone else for this romantic interlude.)

Ok, enough gushing.


My Boston BFF Ellen from McSisters nominated me for the Liebster, and I'm the worst at these things but here's a quick shakedown for you:

Where is the farthest you have ever traveled? I haven't gone enough places. So the answer is Rome. Which isn't bad, really great actually. But I'll also admit for extra bonus points I've never entered Saskatchewan and it's a mere two hours east of me. But I've made it such a long time with this record I kinda wanna keep it alive. I have been east of here...I've just flown over all the flat Canada in between!
Have you ever won anything? If so, what did you win? I can't think of anything big I may have won. Nothing. I've won a couple of blog giveaways because I have entered thousands. May the odds be ever in my favour. 
Who is your favorite saint and why? I don't think I can say I have one favourite saint. I've loved St. Catherine of Siena for awhile, I like that she told Popes what to do. She's my bossy saint friend. I also really like Catherine Doherty because I'm attracted to her spirituality a lot, but she's only Venerable as of right now. And G.K. Chesterton and JPII. 
What is the most dominant color in your wardrobe? I've got a lot of pinks/corals, but really I just have a lot of colour and lots of colours. 
What has made you crack a smile today? Gemma asking how she could get God to put another baby in my tummy.

And that's all I've got because I'm stuck for questions.


Just a couple quick things:

I think I'm going to attempt some kind of Mad Men recap starting next week. I'll probably post Tuesdays because I'll need as much time as possible to absorb the depth and complexities a bit. Also, then you can try and illegally watch the episode Monday if you've got a social life Sunday evenings.

I'm also going to have part two of a little series on reading when you're a mom, The Bookish Mum, sometime next week, the first post was here if you missed it.

Today is the Feast of St. Gemma Galgani, so someone around here gets to have her fill of specialness that comes from her name day, but it won't involve bacon unfortunately.

And just a note to any of you who follow blogs via Facebook; if you're not liking specific posts often then there is a good chance you're not seeing the majority of what that blog posts. So with that in mind as your good deed of the day try "liking" more from the blogs you enjoy, it helps both our blogs and you by giving you much better things to read in your newsfeed everyday.

And that's it. Have a Palm filled weekend!

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