Friday, May 29, 2015

Seven Quick Takes vol. 122 {not enough news to go around}

Just checking in quickly to prove I'm alive, visit Kelly for the better takes!


It's the end of May and I don't know where the time has gone. I officially called the end of "school" to be today. I'm in need of a much needed break on all fronts I think, and at this point taking a break from our sit-down-and-focus-on-curriculum school time is just dragging. We'll still read tons of books and focus of Gemma receiving her First Confession next week, then First Holy Communion and Confirmation the following week, so I think we'll be fine. But I'm needing some kinda change! 


I don't know what kinda funk I'm in but it's a funk. I can't put my finger on it, so I'm trying to let go of my forced attempts to get myself out of it, and maybe just accept that maybe is just the funk for me right now. But it feels like it's hampering a lot. I'm feeling anxious, I can't write anything, I'm tired of cooking supper every night...oh wait...that's not funk related at all!


But I did get my hair done this week for the first time in months! I know, it's a giant SAHM cliche, but you gotta relish it. 
(And tell me you read Jenny's hilarious thoughts on haircare yesterday because I heart them.)


We've been watching Daredevil on the Netflix, and Kendra's talking about the show today as well. I think I like it. I tire fairly easily of superheros, but this series walks a nice line between moral complexity and fighting. I also appreciate that the priest character isn't a complete idiot which is entirely refreshing. It is violent, but the quality of the show is very good. Have you seen it?


I'm trying to find a more light show to watch on Netflix since it's the summer and the funny sitcoms we watch are all over, but there is such a dearth of good comedy isn't there? I loooove Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and 30 Rock isn't on Netflix and I have such a craving for it, but I want something funny! What am I missing guys?? 


This week on the podcast we talked to the lovely and amazing Janet Easter, cofounder of Verily Magazine. It was so great to hear from someone in the magazine world who has a positive view of women, and I love hearing behind the scenes of how a project like this got off the ground. When I was in about grade eight my dream job was to be editor of InStyle magazine. Bossypants am I! 


We're in desperate need of rain up here. My dad is working nonstop trying to feed the cattle since theres so little grass growing, and there are forest fires all over the place. If you've got a minute, prayers would be welcome! We'd gladly take all that moisture that's soaking Texas! But if the weather refuses to drop water, then I'll be finally planting some flowers this weekend which is so nice to finally do. I love spring! 

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Friday, May 22, 2015

Seven Quick Takes vol. 121

Joining the great takers for a couple quick ones, stop by Kelly's for more!


It's birthday week around here! I can't believe my baby girl turned 8 on Tuesday! I know I say this every year, with every child, no matter what, but truly 8 feels old. And since Gemma's my oldest her birthday always hits me the hardest, and at the same time it's terribly exciting and makes me so happy. It's a bundle of emotions really. On one hand, since I'm used so used to babies and toddlers and little kids, I practically let her go about her day like an adult. And on the other I'm still cutting up her food because I'm a crazy person who can't think outside of toddlers! Seriously, I'm a mess guys. 


Gemma did have the loveliest birthday and is the most joyful, sweet girl on the planet and really, I wish I could throw her parties everyday because they make her so happy! She loves a party this girl, she's a very sanguine extrovert and presents are the best, so she's lucky we have a "birthday week" whenever her birthday rolls around.


We have a birthday week because my birthday is the day after hers. And this year I turned the big 3-0. Which seems like a staggeringly big number to me who couldn't imagine what 30 would be like when I was 20, but mostly because I have a problem with long term goals. Being 30 makes me think I should now be better at looking at long term goals but nope, still stink at that! Anyway - it all equals a lot of cake over the course of a few days and I don't think I have a problem with that at all.


So being 30 should make us think back over the past decade shouldn't it? I feel like my 20's are going to be pretty hard to top because they were really quite amazing. My short college career, very short working career, followed by my very early start at my mothering career, 5 kids before 28, married for almost 9 years, and a whole lot of learning was crammed into that decade. It feels pretty accomplished in it's own way. Sure, a couple more trips around the world would have been nice, but I doubt I would have learned so much about myself and how the world really works than by what I did instead. And that's kinda satisfying.


 I may be old but I did end up buying a cream soda slurpee for myself on my birthday. I took one sip and thought, "Maybe I really am too old for this shit?" But I ended up drinking all of it so I guess I was wrong.

Also; I have not matured out of the comical/ridiculous movie. Somehow I completely missed Pitch Perfect when it first came out, and the last three years it has been out, so last night I watched it on Netflix and I have to say, I loved every minute of it. So. There's goes my accrued maturity. 


This week we talked to the hilarious and sweet Dwija from House Unseen on the podcast about making big life changes and how to do it with a big family. She was so fun to talk to, I could have talked to her all day. And did it end up being in the podcast how I wish I was one of her kids so I could just hang out with her all the time? Because I really do. If you haven't gotten a chance to listen yet I hope you do, because you'll have a good laugh.

Also with the podcast we're looking for listener questions you may have. Questions about anything really. We're looking to answer random questions on a whole episode, so let us know what you think. The randomer, the better!


Our long weekend was last weekend, and it was half cold, half fairly warm, but this weekend is going to be downright HOT. Well, hot by Canadian May standards. Our trees are blooming, the grass is green, the sun is almost giving me colour, our garden is planted. Basically, it's heaven and I never dreamed it possible in the depths of February. I'll be outside if you need me, hope your weekend is grand!

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Mad Men Recap - Person to Person or; THE FINALE

Well, guys, we made it through the end. And now I'm here to recap both the episode and my myriad feelings both during and after the actual episode because - ALL THE FEELS!

Feelings such as:

Bewilderment - oh wow, so you can just do coke on vacation just like that?

Don-Draper-is-crying crying - Because is there anything in the world sadder than a man you love crying? Your dad? Your husband? No, no there's not.

Surprise routing for the guy you've hated for years - Yeah! You jump on that jet with Trudy in her kickass hat, Pete!

A good dash of rolling your eyes(or whatever the emotional equivalent is?) - Really, Stephanie? Does anyone actually like Stephanie?

Uninhibited tears of happiness - Because Stan and Peggy's scene over the phone was one of the best romantic scenes I've ever seen!

A good Roger laugh for old time's sake - Because Du Maurier cigarettes really are "le shit".

Genuine anger at Don - For the Love Don!! You can't keep going forward!!!! Have we learned nothing!!

Heartbreaking empathy - You never thought you'd experience that emotion through a group therapy session on television, did you? Just saying it seems bizarre. Bravo, Matthew Weiner.

My feelings about the finale really came down to the final ten minutes. As I was watching the minutes of the episode flash by, and I realized there were ten minutes in the show left I didn't know how the show would wrap up. But then that soul-barring confession phone call of Don to Peggy, then that almost visible moment of grace moving within Don as he accepts himself in the form of refrigerator guy, then the wrap of the other characters, then Don smiling and meditating in the California sun, then the famous Coke ad.

At first I was dissatisfied and pretty disappointed.

Let me explain. I really thought there should be more tangible connections to Don finding his personal redemption between him and his family. I felt his offer to move to California to help Stephanie really dismissed all ties to his family in New York. Then the last scene with Betty looking close to death while smoking in their depressingly dark kitchen while Sally washed dishes contrasted against Don smiling serenely while basking in his new found glow seemed jarringly insensitive and dismissive of any connection Don should have had with his family. That's all there is? Don's smiling while they suffer? It felt really awful to me at first.

Then the ad. Upon my first watching I felt that it must have had no connection to Don. Was this ad rubbing Don's nose in it? Was it the brainchild of those identical lackeys at McCann? Or did Don hatch this idea out of his newly found tidbit of hippy-dippy, feel-good, yoga enlightenment? Does spiritual credibility mean nothing to Don that he is just using it to pump the wheels of capitalism? It left me at loose ends, until I started thinking about things and discussing this with people much smarter than myself, (hi, Kathryn and Karen!).

There's really a lot to say about the finale and how it relates to so much that has already occurred, especially for Don, but as usual I'll just gloss over the bits that hit me the most.

As the episode opens with Don literally trying to get away from himself as fast as possible, by driving some crazy car in the middle of the desert, it becomes obviously fairly quickly that whatever knowledge he's gained of himself through the simplicity and clean living of the last episode has left him with nothing. Nothing to help him move forward, nothing to believe in, and most importantly no hope for his future. The first person to person phone call of the episode is to Sally who breaks to him the news that Betty's dying. Sally is the mature voice of the conversation, pleading with her father to listen to her because she knows the situation, while again he is so far from them and removed that he really can't know what's going on. Here Sally is switching roles with a parent once again, she's proving to have more maturity in handling a terribly difficult situation. She's really proving that she is already on the path to becoming more insightful about herself and her family, and more sacrificial as well, than both her parents have been in the past. But in contrast to Sally is Don, left alone again with terrible news in an empty hotel room.

Don's enforced isolation becomes worse during his second person to person call to Betty where she tells him to not rush home - to not come home at all, that he hasn't even been present enough to register as a normal part of their sons lives for him to come back. It's doubly heartbreaking to watch. Don then tailspins by getting drunk and somehow winds up in California, his destination for starting anew when he himself has no direction. A whole post could be dedicated to Don and California - how he has gone there so many times in the past looking for renewal of some kind, a new answer, a new distraction, but that is very different than finding true meaning and a home. Don somehow winds up at Stephanie's house and we learn she does not live with her son and is headed to a retreat in Big Sur.

Don ends up getting dragged to the hippy-dippy retreat centre where he is obviously not impressed, but seems to stay just to see what it is all about. Stephanie confronts her issues with being separated from her son which propels Don to spew a line when trying to get her to stay, "You never grew up with Jesus. You don't know what these people believe. You can move forward from here." Followed by a plea to move out to California to help her out. The whole dialogue from Don was so rife with what he has clung to for so long, it's been his life motto which has led him down a path of emptiness. He's believed he can just move forward from being Dick Whitman, he can move forward from his traumatic childhood, his mistakes, his broken vows, his failures as a father. He believes he can move forward so easily because he doesn't truly believe in anything, not himself, his job, his family. Don is still grasping onto the remnants of this mistaken philosophy, and Stephanie sees right through him.

Don's next person to person call is to Peggy and here is where things get interesting! Don is clearly at the end of his rope and near despair, and calls to say goodbye to Peggy and confesses all the things that he has done wrong. This confession is so poignant and important to what follows for Don I think, he's truly remorseful and confessing this to the only person who has understood him for so long, and it is so needed for him. Peggy rightly reassures Don that although he's done terrible things, he's also done good things. He has done things of worth and real value. He may have broken his marriage vows but he has three beautiful children, he may have taken another man's identity but with it he has mentored and helped others, and he is loved even if he doesn't recognize it. This conversation is very emblematic of confession. Here is Peggy welcoming back the sinner, telling the sinner to indeed come home, reminding him of his worth and that no matter what he has done he is still loved.

It is exactly this confession to another person that is what Don has needed in order to deal with his life. It's this wholehearted, sincere, and heart wrenching confession that opens up Don to the movings of grace within himself. Don has been such an individual. Always isolating himself from those around him, especially his wives and family. He has never confessed the fullness of his culpability to anyone before, maybe this kind of confession, has been what he has been running from for so very long. It's amazing how the act of physically and vocally expressing our sins truly opens our hearts to letting go of the wrong we have done, and becomes the first step towards reparation and wholeness. As Catholics we believe this wholeheartedly and have access to the Sacrament of Confession, but it is so true from a human and psychological level that this need to confess our wrongs is the first step to better understanding ourselves, experiencing love, and experiencing real change.

Then Don is sitting in a group therapy session where each person is invited to share. When a nondescript, middle aged man with crappy clothes and a combover talks about working in an office being invisible and unseen by even his family, how this makes it impossible to know real love it's as if Don is broken open. He sees himself in this everyman, he understands that what he has been running from - even to the extent of creating a glamorous, outwardly successful career, while pursuing his every desire, that this fundamental wound inside his heart has kept him from wholeness and from understanding love. Don's actual embrace of the man is a beautiful image of him embracing himself in his woundedness. Grace is moving within him to acknowledge and understand himself and to, in effect, forgive himself and love himself.

The next we see Don is after a wrap-up of the other characters, he's sitting cross-legged on that gorgeous hill overlooking the ocean, sun bouncing off his amazing bone structure, the ding of meditation, and then -- Don Draper smiles. We're then shown the famous Coke commercial with the iconic song that's big on the words "love" and "the real thing". At first I was so put off by the insertion of the commercial, it immediately felt as if whatever real epiphany or spiritual insight Don had must have been on only a slight, shallow level that could easily be pawned into a commercial for soda. But the ad is really the hope and future of Don Draper. The ad shows us that Don has hope for the future, he has gone back to New York to a real home with a solid foundation for the future because he has become more whole. And Don creating such a successful ad is proof that he is in a good place again, because his creativity is dependent on the stability of his personal life. Over the years as his private life has imploded again and again, his love for his job and what he has such a gift for has waned. Putting to work his creative genius to such effect shows us that he has gone back home to recover, change, and live life with a purpose. He has been redeemed to live a new life with hope.

I will say that I was especially jarred by the image of Sally and Betty in the dank kitchen shown right before Don glimmering in the California sun. It seems to show that domestic darkness of Don's life, to the stark contrast of Don smiling in the sunlight of newfound enlightenment. I always wanted there to be a deeper connection with Don's redemption to his family. But because of the hope of the ad, maybe there is hope that there may be room in the life of his family when he returns? Maybe Sally in her sacrificial love for her family will have empathy, and most importantly, forgiveness to offer her father? And maybe because of Don's fierce independence and trouble with intimacy he was never meant to find redemption in those closest to him, but in the strangers he always dealt with with charm?

Catching up with the rest of the characters briefly, I think Joan has come a long way from the beginning of the show. I caught a couple episodes of season one last week during the marathon, and Joan was far from the feminist up-and-comer in the office at the beginning. She also didn't get along with Peggy at all, so I so appreciated how far their friendship has come in the show, it was a really cool moment to think about Joan and Peggy starting their own company and setting their own rules, and hopefully putting up with less sexist crap. Joan has also learned a lot about compromising for men and she wasn't willing to let go of this new opportunity to please her boyfriend. She wraps up as a feminist character who never was a feminist, but a woman who really loved her job. I love Joan, and I think she probably went on to be successful while being a mom and getting along with her mom more than she'd like to admit.

Pete even got a scene saying goodbye to Peggy minus animosity or bitterness which I thought was a nice touch. I'm still surprised that I don't despise Pete anymore, that I honestly wish him the best as a character and believe his change of heart to be genuine. I also was completely in love with Trudy's hair, coat, and hat.

Then of course Peggy and Stan. I've been so hoping for them to get together since he began working there and she began driving him crazy. It's a quirky relationship based on honest friendship and the telephone scene was played to such perfection I still swoon thinking about it. Peggy so richly deserved a happy ending. She chose the tough road of remaining in advertising where she has a real gift and drive to succeed, even though it will be challenging, and it leaves us with great images of her future with Stan supporting her in the crazy world of advertising.

Roger made me laugh until the end and I think that's where we all wanted him to end up. He may not have changed drastically, but he's getting married again and this time to a woman who knows what she's getting herself into and who is around the same decade in age. Every Roger scene in the finale was enjoyable and even though Marie is somewhat bat-shit-crazy, she'll keep him interested much longer than any young secretary could. And it was a very nice gesture seeing him leave lil'Kevin in his will.

I have to give a shout out to one of my faves - Ken! So glad he and the patch made it in the finale and with Joan no less! I also love him a bit more for calling his son "weird".

And finally, may be my favourite secretary, and not just because you always land on your feet!

Thank you all for reading this extremely long novella dedicated to my favourite tv show of all time. There is still so much to say about it and I will still think about it and enjoy wondering where the characters have gone. What has been proven by this final season however, is that this really is a show that tells the story of human nature in a very careful and honest way. The human soul is restless until it rests with God, but what is so evident within Mad Men is the varying ways that our individual experiences, wounds, and sins can close our souls off from that love, especially in a society that encourages us to run as far as we can from the Truth. But no matter how far we may run, the call of love and the reaches of mercy are always waiting, even for Don Draper.

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Mad Men Recap - The Milk and Honey Route

 Another amazing episode has led us to the finale with all the beauty, poignancy, and precise storytelling that has been the calling card of this series. What's becoming more beautifully evident however, is that by telling such a real story with such psychological accuracy, that Mad Men is telling a deeply human story and one that can't help but reflect Christian truths.

We find Don calling Sally from the road, somewhere in Kansas after seeing a two headed cow in Wyoming and headed south. Don rolls through Oklahoma but encounters car trouble which leaves him stranded at a small town motel. Here in the motel he is stripped of so much. He is no longer confined by his job, his romantic relationships, or his money (he has left possible millions at McCann by walking out), even his car has broken down and he is left with only himself. Here he is alone with his own heart and conscience and the pride which he has clung to for so many years is finally gone.

Not only has he been stripped of the outer worldly idols he has chased for so long, he is willingly choosing this simplicity, this poverty. He may notice a foxy bikini-clad mom at the pool, but he isn't acting on or feeling the usual instinctive lust for conquest, he is living chastely. (I notice the glaring lack of the virtue of obedience, but I don't think it's far behind, check with me next week.)

How interesting to think that Don Draper, the quintessential man of his era - the sexual revolution - a man who has lived with sexual abandon, become professionally successful, wealthy beyond his dreams, envied by all, yet in order to understand himself and this deep yearning for true meaning he is drawn back to the very basic spiritual tenants of poverty and chastity. His road to conversion, or to finding true meaning to his life, is being explored through these two evangelical counsels.

Don also encounters a teenage boy, Andy, who is clearly on the path to becoming a huckster and general con man very reminiscent of Don's own youth. Don at first humours him, but when Don is accused of stealing money from the local veterans Don confronts Andy's criminal efforts with the cutting plea to leave town so he doesn't have a place he can never return to. Don is explaining how even though he thought he could get away from the pain and troubles of his childhood by becoming someone else, not being able to return to a place, to your roots does leave one with a heavy burden.

But Betty! As a character much maligned and disliked for her cold and vain childishness it is somehow fitting that she get a tragic ending, not because I wished her any harm, but because her character was so well-drawn that the drama of her demise seems apt.

Betty is wheezing her way around college, still catching the good-looking boy's eye, and again lung cancer rears it's ugly head. Don has already lost Anna, his pseudo-wife, to lung cancer, and as Don has been a creative head of companies who made fortunes from selling cigarettes, it's an insight into the moral complications of corporate America. Betty doesn't collapse in hysterics however, she remains true to her character of approaching her diagnosis with a grim acceptance. Sally and Henry are rightly shaken and desperate, yet Betty still remains so true to her character neither dissolving into a puddle of sentimentality, nor becoming the fawning mother comforting her child in need. It's a testament to how realistic this show is, and how psychologically astute the writers are to make these characters so true to what life really looks like.

The tragedy of Betty being fitting, we have the surprising happy ending for Pete Campbell. Pete and Trudy's relationship has always been one that aspired to Don and Betty greatness. The viewers see that the sacramental bonds that remain between Betty and Don also remain between Pete and Trudy. Pete is caught off-guard as Duck Phillips lands him a prime job with Lear Jets, he'll keep his SC&P buyout millions, while being able to start again in Wichita. He only has to convince Trudy to forgive him, to risk trusting him again and put faith in his change of heart being sincere.

I found Pete's change of heart a realization of his past behaviour and what it's consequences have really been. Pete has tried to do whatever it takes to get to the top, follow his sexual prowess in affairs, let his marriage fall apart, tried to live the lie of divorce healing all ills and being true freedom. It's at dinner with his brother that he shows such insight into the folly of his past ways. He has been doing what he has been doing not because he was assured he was making good choices but because his father did the exact same thing and that's the only example he has had in life of what it means to be a man. I thought it was especially touching how this short conversation between brothers was enough to get his brother to get up and cancel a date with a woman who was not his wife.

After so many years of seeing Pete as the little shit of the office, I was caught off guard with how genuinely happy I was for Pete and Trudy's reuniting. Pete wanted to be Don, but now he's shown that he's found the personal insight much earlier in life than Don. He's now ahead of Don in realizing what really matters in his life enough to risk his pride and ask his wife to take him back, to rebuild his fractured family, to begin again with integrity. That's not to say they'll have a fairytale second marriage, but it does show so much hope and beauty in the power of marriage as a lifelong tie that bonds people together.

Who ever thought I'd be crying happy tears for Pete?! Not me!!

The Milk and Honey Route" may just be the desert where Don is finally finding God. He may finally be making choices that facilitate discovering the truth about himself, his family, and love. And if my hunches are right, the final episode will involve self-sacrifice, obedience, and redemption for the man who has looked for meaning in his life for a long time.

Ah!! Guys! I'm so excited and full of emotions for the finale!

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Striped Blanket or; How I Spent the Winter

I think it goes without saying that I'm not a crafty person and this is not a crafty blog. I think sewing is a superpower and crafting with children an activity only saints do in their spare time. But. But! But! But! Canadian winters are long, yo.

And my one crafting ability is crocheting. It perfectly blends the ability to make something beautiful with yarn in smaller amounts of direct attention needed than knitting, and happens at double the speed of knitting. Not that I'm hating on knitting, it's just a fact jack. Plus my choleric personality loves accomplishing, not being precise. It always comes back to me, doesn't it?

I like to have a sizeable project to plug away at during the winter where the evenings are long. I also love having something to do while mindlessly watching football and/or binging my way through whole seasons of television (I'm looking at you Parenthood!).

So here is this year's project that I really have to document on my blog or else I'm fairly certain it never happened. I used the wonderful Lucy of Attic 24's pattern for her stripe blanket and I used her yarn selection from her collection at Wool Warehouse. It took away all the stress of figuring out a perfect pattern and perfect yarn. Although those things can be fun to do, but back in the fall I just needed to be doing and not spending time comparing yarn prices, ya know?

I chugged along happily because the ripples are so perfectly easy to put down and pick up again. I also blew away my husband's expectations and bet that I wouldn't be done the entire blanket in a year, so I'm pretty impressed with myself.

The blanket ends up being the length of a twin bed and I love the perfect candy-bright colours. Gemma claimed the blanket early on, so now it happily resides on her bed where hopefully all my hard work will be cherished everyday of her childhood! (Hey, a girl can dream, right?)

Thanks for indulging my documenting!

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Friday, May 8, 2015

Seven Quick Takes vol. 120 - with a little snow thrown in

Just checking in with Kelly, as per...


What's that? It's the first week of May? We started out the week by having Dom's first soccer practice, but his second soccer practice got cancelled Wednesday due to snow. You know, totally normal thing to have happen. Actually last year we didn't even start the soccer season until after Mother's Day because there were snowstorms, so it is normal!


However, having it snow continually for a whole day during the month of May made me want to day drink. I may have put a shot of something in my coffee, but it really didn't make much of a dent. Some things are too crappy to overcome with the recommended amount of alcohol you're allowed to consume when caring for 5 small children. (Read: NOT ENOUGH ALCOHOL!)


Yesterday I came upstairs from doing laundry to find Max naked and climbing a table. I just stood there with a face on, Gemma rushed over to me and said, "Don't worry Mommy. Try not to loose your hyper!" 
Oh, child...I lost my "hyper" so long ago..


Nora is turning out to be a pretty feisty two year old. Not that that's much surprise considering her baby personality. But from the way she walks - stomping around the yard in her rubber boots, to how she talks to her siblings - "Wait MEE! Wait MEE!", she may be turning into my clone. It's something my husband's been saying for a while now, but as she get's bigger it's becoming harder to deny.


May always feels like a sentimental month to me. It's got Mother's Day, Gemma's birthday, and my birthday, it's like a trifecta of things that force nostalgia upon you. I can't fathom that this is my 8th Mother's Day, that my baby is already 8 YEARS OLD, and that I'm another decade older. It just seems absolutely ridiculous that time can fly by so quickly. I get all teary eyed thinking how big my kids are getting, and yet how inexperienced I can feel on a daily basis. And as much as I thought having "bigger" kids would make things easier, it still feels as if I'm drowning in babies, albeit heavier, louder, more demanding ones. I think I'm getting used to the fact that it's not easy and I'm almost accepting the idea that I don't want it to be easy. It's just awesome that it takes me years and years and years to learn this basic stuff, isn't it??


On this week's podcast episode we talked to Michele Chronister the editor of the book, Rosaries Aren't Just For Teething: Reflections on Mary by Mothers, which Haley and I both contributed a chapter. It was really interesting talking about the rosary from a mother's perspective. I find it's on of those things that's easy to gloss over, but once you start digging into a bit there's so much to talk about! That's sort of what happened when I had to come up with something to write about as well, it was a neat experience. Michele and Haley also talk about dealing with extreme nausea during pregnancy, and it's always encouraging to hear from other mom's who deal with difficulty during pregnancy. I don't suffer to that extent at all, but just hearing them is inspiring. Hope you get a chance to listen!


I should mention that I really screwed up the Rafflecopter giveaway for the book, for some reason I didn't check when the contest would end, so entries stopped being accepted on Wednesday. Which is ridiculous. This is why I should do more giveaways, so that I actually know how it works! Thanks to all who entered and you can buy the book in paperback now, and on Kindle as of Sunday. It's really worth the price just for the lovely reflections by Jenny, Cari, and Michele. But there's about ten more contributors who also knock your socks off. 

Wishing you all a wonderful Mother's Day weekend! May your coffee be hot and the volume of your house...not too loud ;)

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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Mad Men Recap - Lost Horizon

Ahh!! Guys! This episode was so great. On so many levels. If these last two episodes are of this calibre we are in for such a satisfying conclusion, and I am in for so many tears come May 18th.

Let's dive right in.

Don's entering McCann and is being celebrated by Jim Hobart as his white whale, but Don is chaffing with having to declare his newly beholden status to McCann Ericsson. Don is getting comfortable in his office, freshly furnished by my fave Meredith, and as he peers out the window of the high-rise -- what's that we see below?? Oh, only ST. PATRICK'S CATHEDRAL!!! I honestly had to pause the episode so I could audibly squeal in delight at such a crafty touch of brilliance as we see that the One calling to Don, the answer to his many questions regarding his purpose, is waiting for him outside the legendary high rise of the opening credits. Simply brilliant.

We go on to see that all of Don's individualist instincts are being suffocated as he is one face among the crowd of creatives in a research meeting with Miller Beer. Don glances out the window and sees a plane flying across the sky and his desire to escape is palpable. First Don goes to take Sally back to school, but upon finding she's already left and that Betty is knee-deep in her new BFF Freud, he decides to drive not back to New York but to Racine, Wisconsin home of the infamous Diana.

Don's encounter with Diana's ex-husband and his wife is excellently paced and directed so that at once it seems cautionary yet jarring. Diana's ex-husband doesn't fall for Don's smooth rouse as a representative giving away a fridge, nor a collections agent, but sniffs out that he is another piece of collateral damage left in the wake of Diana and her life now sadly condemned to emotional destruction. The ex-husband's declaration to Don "I lost my daughter to God and my wife to the devil." and his direct appeal for Jesus' mercy is reminiscent to me of Flannery O'Connor. A jarringly blunt telling of spiritual truth. Finally this dramatic moment of Don confronted with the fact of Christ directly dealt with in the dialogue of the show.

Don gets back in his car and we see him driving in the middle of America not knowing in which direction he is going until he stops to pick up a hitchhiker. When the the hitchhiker asks to go to St. Paul with Don responding that he could do that, the imagery of possible conversion on the road is complete.

Will the scales finally fall off Don's eyes? Will he finally recognize his need for redemption that cannot be found on earth through money, success, and women?

Kathryn and I discussed the possibility of Don staying on the road until he returns to his beloved California, the place where he so often finds renewal and epiphanies of one sort or another, but he has never found true conversion in California. We both think that for Don to find that essential knowledge of himself and the meaning of love that he needs to find his way back to Sally. Maybe his roadside conversion like St. Paul could bring him back to Sally with a stable and real love to offer her, and guidance as she reaches adulthood. The possibilities become so tantalizing in this episode for Don's final redemption that I couldn't be more pleased with the direction the plot seems to be going.

But while Don is still travelling to his destination, it appears that Joan has reached the end of the road for her career. McCann has turned out to be completely disrespectful to her position, capabilities, and role she had at SC&P. The complete douche-bag Ferg Connolly makes continuing to work accounts impossible for Joan. She threatens Jim Hobart with legal action in a marvellous scene in his office. She threatens him with the ACLU, and the fact that all the woman of his staff are likely to want to have legal help in dealing with the myriad sexual harassments that happen in the office. Hobart is so loathsome as to offer Joan 50 cents on the dollar to pay her off out of the company. She is owed half a million, she cannot garner the respect to deserve to be paid off in full. It is all so deeply humiliating to her who has worked her way up from the bottom with tenacity, perseverance, hard work, and even the selling of her body. Her rise to the top hasn't been easy, it's required every part of her, and yet she is faced with being pushed out because of the same ill treatment she has risen above time and time again. Roger is the one to finally convince her that she isn't in it for the politics, which is true, she's in it for the respect, so she decides to walk out with the deal. It's tough to watch someone we've seen work so hard to get to where she is be so callously defeated by such reprehensible characters.

This of course doesn't bode well for Peggy who also is a woman in a senior position from SC&P transferring to McCann. Peggy is already getting short shift by not having an office ready for her by the time they have to clear out of the SC&P offices. She hangs around the office for a few days trying to get things done as best she can alone, until she hears Roger woefully playing an organ in the empty offices. (Where the organ came from I still haven't figured out, but it's pretty awesome that it was there, and that Roger is going all Phantom of the Opera on it!)

And here we see Roger showing Peggy how to get day-drunk on sweet vermouth at the office with all the pluck and humour we love him for. He also is of course saying that business doesn't care about feelings, when he very clearly does feel disappointment and sadness at the dissolution of his company and the loss of his employees. Roger does have a heart no matter how much he likes to ignore it and make a good joke about it. It's in this strange interlude of the two characters together that Roger in a way mentors Peggy in the art of exuding the confidence of not caring, while at the same time making sure you're good at your job. Roger has also mentored Joan along the way and it's touching here that in a storyline where women in the workplace are taking such a beating at McCann where systemic, company wide harassment is the norm, that one man can offer kindness, respect, and mentorship to a woman and clearly make an impact.

Because Roger does make an impact on Peggy-- which we see as she finally struts into McCann. A complete badass, Peggy looks like she's ready to go to war at McCann, or at least stand up for herself because she knows how things work, and she's got an erotic octopus painting to prove that she's ready for the challenge. It was one of the show's best moments, and we all hope that Peggy will prove with confidence and smarts, that she's a force to be reckoned with at McCann.

There's so much to say! The roller skating was one of those fabulous moments you want to watch again and again. Shirley-I just love Shirley, and she's obviously a smart cookie who's moving to a different industry where she'll be afforded a bit more respect than advertising. Meredith's an interior designer?! Yay! And I wanted to jump through the screen at how awful Ferg and Jim Hobart awful...

Ok, I'm making myself stop. Tell me what you thought!

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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

What I've Been Reading Lately - because it's been a while!

I've gone two months without writing about books. That is ridiculous. Although, I'm sure the time flew by for you, dear reader!

Without even realizing it, it seems I've been reading a bit of literary fiction which isn't a bad thing, but it does make me read a bit slower. If you're looking for a more serious read one of these may be for you!

Here are my quick, blunt, ruthlessly honest capsules of what I've been reading lately:

Catherine of Siena by Sigrid Undset

I've already written about this book, but as a book review this one still deserves mention. It's a wonderful biography of a saint that doesn't become overly sappy, sentimental or pious while at the same time retaining a respect for the often-times strange mysticism that was part of Catherine's spirituality. This book could be read simply for the amazing telling of the political situation of medieval Italy which is complicated, multi-layered and nuanced, because Undset's incredible gift for making the medieval life and mindset understandable for us moderns is present on every page. It is so helpful to have a good representation of not only the saint themselves, but the times in which they lived because saints don't live in vacuums. I learned so much about St. Catherine and have a new appreciation for her spirituality while at the same time being still in awe of her -- she was an amazing woman, and an amazing biography!

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

I haven't talked about Gilead since talking on the podcast about it, but it is such a beautiful book that says so much with such subtlety and love. It is a tale of an elderly minister writing to his son, recounting some of his family history, his own story of faith and life, as well as examining forgiveness and love. It's honest and lovely. The book is such an excellent telling of what faith really is and how a life of faith is lived.

Home by Marilynne Robinson

Since I was hooked by Marilynne Robsinson in Gilead, I kept going with Home which continues the story of Gilead in a way, by exploring the Boucher family and it's wayward son Jack. Where Gilead is full of hope and seeing grace in the ordinary, Home is the heartbreaking tale of what happens when someone just can't accept that grace. It is again, a beautiful telling of a very human story with perfect honesty. I especially thought her writing of the intricacies of family life, especially adult siblings was incredible. It is a truly heartbreaking book, but it also portrays the importance of love in striking ways and is a story that stays with you. I've got the third book in the series waiting to be read on my nightstand!

An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine

I went on a real literary fiction kick, didn't I? This is the story of a Lebanese woman retelling her tale of living through turmoil, war, divorce, and Lebanese society while pursuing literature. I like the premise, and the writing was interesting, but the tone of the book and the main character just left me not liking it very much. I gave this one a go because it was on a lot of literary top ten lists for the best books of last year, I probably shoulda put it down, but then again I have "Must Finish Books OCD".

The Dean's Watch by Elizabeth Goudge

My sister has always loved a good Goudge, (I should also say that I relish pronouncing her name "Goooodge" which I understand is totally incorrect, but fun to say) but I've never read her before so I read this selection from Micaela's book club long after the book club read it! I'm not sure if this novel is indicative of her writing style, but I'd say this book was not big on plot but was a more introspective look at a cast of characters of an English cathedral town and what brings them together, even through their struggles. I enjoyed it once I got used to her pacing, which was slooow to begin with. It was a satisfying story if one that was mostly character driven over plot.

I haven't finished any non-fiction in months because all my non-fiction reading time is currently devoted to this doorstop. I adore presidential biographies (it's probably a terrible personality flaw). But this Lincoln biography is so great that anyone would enjoy it. I might have it finished by Advent!

Make sure to go check out all the other great books and link up your read's with Jessica today at Housewifespice!

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Friday, May 1, 2015

Seven Quick Takes vol. 119

Hi Kelly! Go say hi too...


This week was a quiet one around here. I felt as if I was going to get all caught up on things but really it turned out be not drowning in laundry and sorting through children's books. But I should be grateful for these small mercies with how much time and gumption I have for these kinda thing! I even threw away board books! Guys, I have issues even giving away books. I feel like books are one of THE only things you don't throw away, ever. But I threw some board books that I just could not repair for the 500th time and were in multiple pieces, and the thought of never seeing them again fills me with joy!


I've been feeling anxious this week and I really don't want it to become full blown. The thing is it's anxiety about stuff I cannot control at all. Also, it's things that are so far removed from me and my life personally that it seems a bit crazy to care so much. But there's Nepal, and Baltimore, and ISIS, and we really need rain, and there's a provincial election going on and I hate politics in this province with a fiery passion, and much of that kinda thing. It's that kind of anxiety thought patterns creeping in and I'm really trying to not let it get away from me.


In happier news I'm feeling so happy that my kids are outside and exploring and puttering around. It's really one of my favourite things about watching my children grow. (But I'm not going to talk about them growing, because I'm beginning to feel sentimental because Gemma's birthday is coming up so I'll spare you that for another post!) Max is so much happier when he gets at least two hours of outdoors time, although he still viciously fights an afternoon quiet time. He is enamoured with checking cows for calves with my dad when he rides by and feeding cows on the tractor. The older kids are running and biking and climbing. And Nora is literally stomping around seeing things with brand new walking eyes. It's really nice. Someone remind me of this when I complain next!


May is really going to pick up and be busy, and you know I never get out of the house when Dom's twice a week soccer practices are sending me into spasms of organizational despair. It's partly because the practices are right at dinner time and I hate crock pots. I think I might just do sandwiches for dinner those days and just walk away.


Have you guys seen Katrina's beautiful shop that launched this week?? She beautifully painted the word "Pax" in a crown of thorns just like the opening paragraph of In This House of Brede!! It's beautiful and I love it.


Have I talked enough about Mad Men this week? No, I probably haven't. It was really and truly too much fun talking about Mad Men for about an hour with Haley and Kathryn on this week's Fountains of Carrots podcast episode. I felt like a giant fan girl, but it was really satisfying digging deep into the show.


And last but definitely most important -- I'm giving away 3 digital copies of the new book that I was so excited to be a part of, Rosaries Aren't Just For Teething: Reflections on Mary by Mothers! I've already started reading the reflections by the great writers in this book and I'm trying to pace myself because it's such good stuff. It's a great book for any mom in your life with Mother's Day coming up, and of course, for yourself. You can buy the paperback right now from Amazon, and next week the Kindle and digital versions will be available too. 

But! If you'd like to win a digital copy right now I'm giving away 3! So 'copter away and good luck friends, I really want to give you one!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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