Friday, June 26, 2015

Seven Quick Takes vol. 125

Joining Kelly the Pioneer Woman for Seven Quick ones.


Oh guys, it's a beautiful summer week around here. It's been hot enough to break out the hose, the kiddie pool, and to let certain toddlers run around naked outside. It's really great. I just want to get that out there. Summer is great=newsflash, I know. You're coming here for revelations aren't you?


I'm kinda digging for positives this week though to be honest. Not that life is terrible, or giant bad things have happened, but this week has been so hard parenting wise. I'm not sure what has changed. I homeschool, my kids are around me all the time, summer is not exactly a big change, but I'm really feeling worn down. Just the same dealing with constant discipline issues, and tantrums, and a more difficult child than usual. Is it just me? Am I losing my parenting grip? Do I need to go back to parenting school for a refresher? Is it just because he's a difficult child? It's not that it's a bunch of terrible things, but more of a constant dealing with screaming, obstinance, refusing to listen, constant arguments, tantrums. And his behaviour is light years better when it's just dad at home. I'm just not sure what I should be doing, but simultaneously feeling like I really stink at this job and sorta want to give up and he's only three! 


At the same time, it seems so far that my kids really have a hard time being three. It's been the hardest age for all my kids so far, so I know logically that it will get better. But in the day to day it is really hard to keep that in mind. 
I think I need a break. Or a restart. Or something! Ahh!! Just going a little crazy, nothing to see here.


Today I'm writing the devotion at Blessed Is She. Today's Mass readings include the story of God speaking to Abraham and the establishment of the covenant between God and Abraham. What struck me was that God wanted to use Abram's marriage to establish this important covenant between himself and humanity. He could have used anything, but the emphasis on marriage really struck me when I wrote this devotion about two months ago. 

I’ve always found the story of Abraham fascinating because it seems like a strange story that one of God’s first ways of revealing Himself to man would take place within the context of a man’s relationship with his wife. Not with a king or ruler deciding the fates of people or the building of temples, but God communicating with a man about the relationship he has with his wife and the building of a family. 
Click on over to read the whole thing!


I had no idea that this devotion about marriage would be published on this day when such a monumental decision was made by SCOTUS. Marriage isn't something that's malleable to human desires and wants. Although, we've been living throughout the last century or so as if it is. Courts, public opinion, laws, may say marriage is one thing but we can't get around the reality that God believes in the importance of marriage between a man and a woman. 
Five people decided for a whole country what marriage means. Five. Can we just think about that on a democratic level for a second? How do five unelected people have so much power? I find that to compound the error of this decision. We've lost so much when it comes to fundamental understanding of what freedom means, democracy means, truth means. 


On a cheerier note! Haley and I had a fun time talking books again on another book swap episode of the podcast! I know that these episodes are kinda hit or miss it seems, it seems people either really love them or don't listen to them at all, but this time we discussed to really interesting books and I thought it was pretty entertaining. I hope you get a chance to listen!


We've also started a Fountains of Carrots Facebook group where we hope to have a bit of space to encourage conversation about the various topics we discuss on the podcast. We'd love to have you join us! We're probably going to take at least the month of July off when it comes to podcasting, mostly because Haley is going to be driving around the country, so we hope the group will be a place where we can stay in touch! 

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend! My husband's taking has the next five days off so I'm hoping for a productive/recharging break of sorts, but we'll see about that! 

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Will We Read Blogs in 50 Years Like We Read Flannery O'Connor's Letters?

I've recently been working my way through Flannery O'Connor's The Habit of Being. It's a collection of her letters and correspondence to her publishers, editors, and friends. But it doesn't read as boring somehow, even if it's described as just everyday correspondence. I'm not sure if it's because her wit and brilliance ooze out of every letter, or if it's because the idea of communication taking so long and being so important and meaningful seems so foreign to me - because I love both aspects.

I've always loved letters and the romance of letters. There's something thrilling about messages being sent out into the world and arriving at their destination in far flung places and all you had to do was stick a stamp on an envelope. I remember being a girl and loving having pen pals and the expectation and anticipation of letters coming in the mail.

And now that all seems foreign. I get messages from my friends instantly. The trills of a text notification just doesn't seem to have as much import as that thrill of opening the physical mailbox and sifting through piles of flyers to find something meaningful. I also don't go back and read my text conversations. And maybe that doesn't mean much, if I were living 80 years ago would I go back and reread every letter? Would I have brilliant family correspondents that merited repeated reading? Doubtful. But the idea of that lack of permanence that all our digital communication now lacks has gotten me thinking.

Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner has said he got much of the research for the common, everyday, realities of the 1960's from journals. He said that not many journals noted JFK's assassination, but they did speak to what they purchased that day, how they got around, how their everyday life actually functioned.

Naturally I leap to the conclusion and wonder if any of our online journals will be read in 50 years. I know that many bloggers write specifically with the idea of their own children reading it one day. I don't really bear that in mind very often because when I was a child the last thing I'd have wanted to read were my mother's musings on being my mother. My childhood memories are intact the way they are and sometimes I don't know if my mother's viewpoint on them would be helpful at all. If we insert "journal" for "blog" would our mothers want us reading their journals? Have we just changed our idea of journalling to a public experience and one that's meant to be viewed? I can't help but think that this is a big philosophical difference between the journalling that happened in every generation before us and ours. And I don't really know if anyone will bother to look back in 50 years at our digital records. Will they even exist? Will people even care about us 50 years from now? These are kind of depressing thoughts.

That being said, are there journals from the 1980's? I sometimes think that my mother's generation was the one caught in the terrible middle where the written documentation of letters and journaling had fallen out of style, but at the same time they had no way to share the everyday happenings like we do now. I think the richness of blogging today and it's purpose is found in supporting one another and sharing what life really is to those around us, and not really for posterity's sake. But I could be very mistaken. Maybe in a hundred years a future Matthew Weiner-type genius would like to create a television show that accurately portrays this weird phenomenon called stay at home parenting and stumbles on a wealth of research material in a buried server somewhere.

It just has me wondering what history will think of this time. I love that we can go back and read past histories in so many different eras. I'd hate that we as human beings would or could lose that. But then again, I'd like to think that if Flannery O'Connor were alive now she'd have a really badass blog that I'd read everyday.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Our First First Communion (and Confirmation)

Saturday was Gemma's big day!

It was a wonderful day full of sweetness and excitement and family and faith. It was just lovely.

I didn't cry, to Gemma's shock, but it did feel somewhat incredible that somehow this baby who I could swear I just was holding as a wee, screaming infant, could be old enough for her First Communion. I remember in those early, really rough days postpartum soon after her baptism thinking, "I can't imagine how it could be possible that one day this girl will celebrate her First Communion." That exact thought. I swear. Her baptism felt like a staggering responsibility at the time, and the thought of actually getting my own child ready to receive Christ seemed like such a tough job that I was very unworthy of.

But Gemma was so excited and joyful and a bit nervous, and I hope I remember how much I loved seeing all her emotions because this girl has a lot of them! She was so happy and proud and proclaimed it "the best day ever!"

She was surrounded by family that love her to bits and even her little brothers leaned over to kiss her during Mass. Actually, there must have been excess grace flying around because the boys didn't even fight during Mass, not even a little. Which is saying something!

She was a bit intimidated by a bishop being there, but turned around after being confirmed with a big smile. A few more nerves at Communion, but she could hardly contain her excitement!

I'm gushing and beaming over how happy and proud of my little girl I am. She's really growing up, they're all really growing up, but it's taking a while for that idea to sink in for me I think. I'll try and let it all sink in for awhile I think.

It was really just a lovely, blessed day.

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Friday, June 12, 2015

Seven Quick Takes vol. 124

Say hi to Kelly everyone...


We're just chugging along through spring and it feels so good! It's just so nice to be able to go outdoors without bundling up and putting on boots! Add the fact that I can go outside for a walk after I put the kids to bed and it feels like I'm livin' it up. I know you're thinking, "Not a big deal crazy lady!" -- but I am grateful because I remember February vividly!


I feel like we're beginning to get into a summer grove which feels good. We've had a lot on the schedule but it becomes so much more manageable when I don't feel the pressure of having to get x amount of school done on top of it. It's just nice to have that space in our days. Although, I'm still not using that space to clean my house or plan meals, but we're still surviving pretty well! 


Gemma made it through her First Confession last Saturday with flying colours! She was fairly nervous the day of, but after hearing from Father and seeing a couple kids go before her she was excited. She says she can't wait to go to confession again, which I feel is a good thing, although it's funny to not encourage her to go out and do all the sins so she can go back sooner. ;) Tomorrow is the big day of First Communion and Confirmation and I feel like I have a million things to do to get ready for it, like make a bunch of food, plan the music for the liturgy, make sure all five kids are dressed properly, iron stuff, find myself shoes...stuff like that. I'm excited and at the same time looking forward to it being done and having this major day celebrated and in the books. Which seems like such a mom thing to I old or what??


I'm trying to use this summer time of less school work/hopefully a little less stress to work on some discipline and habit stuff with the kids. I know I've really lacked consistency in disciplining the babies while we're working at school, and well, the inconsistency just spreads and spreads. Max yells way too much, I yell way too much, Nora gets a way with waaay too much, and the older kids could use more responsibilities to take on. So I'm going to try and just get a little better at all that. Just a little better would be great. I'm trying to look at discipline and how I deal with the kids more like a habit vis-a-vis Better Than Before, I feel like if I make better habits in dealing with them it won't result in the piles of stress it usually does, and be a better example to them. There's really just so much mom-will-power I have and it has been seriously drained by five kids, but that's just my excuse and I'm sticking to it.


I feel like there should be more to report and talk about this week because everyday has been busy and yet....and yet...yeah...I don't think you need to be regaled on the wonders of 6 year olds playing soccer. Moving on...


Haley and I spent this week's new podcast episode answering your wonderful questions! It was a good chat session where we don't really give out much advice because...we don't have much! But sometimes it's good just to hear what other people are up to and what they think about random stuff. Most of the questions we received were asking about mom stuff, but I think they were pretty smart and covered a good spectrum. I hope you get a chance to listen!


Well, I've been saturating myself in Flannery O'Connor lately in preparation for my pilgrimage to Milledgeville next month! I'm getting so excited I can barely contain myself. But also; reading so much! I love reading Flannery in the summer, it's a bit of a tradition, and highly recommended!

Hope you all have a fun Father's Day weekend! (Guess who is really dropping the Father's Day ball because of this First Communion happening this weekend??)

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Why Do I Remain Catholic Anyway?

This question of "Why Do I Remain Catholic" has been circling the internet and with good reason, the recent less-than-stellar Pew Research in regards to faith in general, and Catholicism in particular, is disheartening.

But the question leads to some good self-questioning that I haven't thought about in a long time. Because you see, I'm a cradle Catholic who has never really "fallen away" from the Church to a major degree. Now, I would not say that somehow it's because I'm naturally proficient at holiness, or lack intelligent questioning skepticism, or have experienced only sunshine and rainbows by practicing my Faith because none of those things are true.

I have no idea if I would be Catholic now if I was not married to my wonderful Catholic husband, or if I didn't have a supportive Catholic family, or if I did not receive an excellent Catholic education, and know many vibrant and interesting Catholic friends.

I do know that there are many times of temptation or cynicism where I fully admit that my life would be easier if I wasn't Catholic. Easier, more convenient, more comfortable, less personally and spiritually challenging in many ways - from dealing with certain crosses in my personal life like NFP, or just having more friends and likes on Facebook. It would be a lot easier to not have a personal commitment to practicing and believing the Catholic faith and that's what those Pew numbers speak to.

I'm not saying anything original when I say that I remain Catholic mostly because it's the Truth. The Catholic faith isn't just true when it comes to saying God exists, it's true when it speaks to every part of the human experience. Sure, it may not get talked about often at the usual Sunday Mass, most Catholics have never been instructed to understand the philosophical depths of the faith and how it's built solidly upon reason and logical thinking, or that the Church has been historically right for over two centuries.

But the deep, enveloping truth of the whole of Catholic teaching has seeped into every area of my life and I shudder to think what my life would be without it. I don't think I would feel and understand my value as an individual who is inherently loved. I don't think I would understand my purpose in life, from the core of my being amid all the distractions surrounding my everyday life or the confusion in our society. I don't know if I would be able to forgive people, or to know the vast importance of truly loving someone. I've remained in the Church because it has given me so much. Forgiveness, grace, mercy, love, redemption are all given to me through a Church that remains true to me and the world through my short life and human history.

I keep coming back to the solidity of the Church. And maybe it's just me and my crazy personality that can't help but feel it's this very solidity that helps my little bit of faith grow. Because as Chesterton said, "We do not really want a religion to be right where we are right. We want a religion that is right where we are wrong." As I get older and realize better my huge capability of error, as I watch the hubris of pundits and icons grow without bounds, it's easy to see that I can screw things up easily. That every other human being can screw things up easily. Even if it's something we think should be right because of this and this, if we consult the Church and learn what may be behind the teachings we see a wealth of knowledge that one individual or even a current society could get painfully wrong.

But it's the solidity of the truth that asks something of us. When we assent to faith we are required to believe a set of beliefs and sometimes we may not fully understand them. It's uncomfortable in today's society to even confess that you believe in objective truth, let alone the myriad controversial teachings of the Church.

It's easier to say that everyone should do what they feel life to the furthest possible degree, with no hindrance from society.

It's easier to say I can shop for a church that speaks to me personally, that doesn't require me to change my behaviour.

It's easier to believe that the sacraments and the liturgy are just cozy symbols that make us feel good but don't require anything of us.

We live in a culture that doesn't need faith at all because we can choose the easier path of more comfort.

I remain in the faith even though it's cost me very little in comparison to so many around the world. I am not in danger of losing my life, but maybe of losing respect. What I am given is a wealth of love, grace, and knowledge through the Church. And most importantly the Church gives me Christ, who really is part of my life, who really does fill my life with joy, wonder, and love, and who really does give peace in my woundedness and sin, in times of suffering and pain.

I hope and pray for the grace that my conscience and conviction never leave me and so never leave the Church.

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Friday, June 5, 2015

Seven Quick Takes vol. 123

Visit Kelly and the great takers for more!


I don't honestly know why I can't blog anything lately. But I have to keep up the quick takes for my sanity. If anything. I swear I'm having thoughts - it's just that everyone else is writing them so much better than I could anyway! 


It's been kinda the week where you're already feeling a bit overwhelmed and yet each day a little something more gets added on top. It's nothing horrible, it's really just life stuff, ya know? Life stuff in the sense that everyone has crosses and that's just a fact. I know mine could be much worse which makes me feel like I should just get on with it, but at the same time I'm soooo tired of having to grow so much in "perseverance" and "fortitude". I guess my faith and hope are dwindling in one area and I feel like calling it quits. When do you get to say "uncle" in the hard stuff? Because I'm passing over nine years and I am oh so tired of it. 

There. My cryptic spiritual angst for the day. Apologies.


On a really wonderful note that made my whole week was this beautiful post written by Colleen on motherhood and finding that sweet spot of pursuing your own interests while giving your vocation of motherhood everything you've got. I really think that the thing is that the two aspects aren't meant to be separate. They may look very different from what we think we want or what pre-supposed pictures we had for ourselves, but they can still exist and give you a lot. 

I think what gets tangled is that we equate "having it all" with both giving of yourself in your vocation to motherhood and pursuing your interests. But "having it all" at one time doesn't exist. I think the fact that women are still pressured to pursue "having it all" is from the mistaken feminist idea that having it all is just being as successful professionally as a man, or pursuing your own wants and desires to the fullest extent. I think from the Catholic understanding of motherhood, in that each woman regardless of vocation or biological procreation, is called to that journey and life giving. It's about self-sacrifice and humility most of the time, and it calls us to holiness which is much greater and a much bigger thing than simply a successful career path that imitates a man's corporate ladder climbing. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-feminism, I'm just saying that the culture in which we've grown up is a feminism that is incomplete. That doesn't give us a true understanding of what motherhood is and that motherhood is meant to be life-giving not only to our children but to ourselves. And life-giving to ourselves means becoming whole-er, holier people who may be sacrificing for their families, but at the same time still able to pursue interests and work and tons of other things in different contexts than we naturally assume, in a different time frame than we assume we have to make it all happen within. 

Anyways! Big thoughts, I'm not sure thats very clear, but Colleen's post was so great and I'm truly flattered that my rambles sparked such smart thoughts. Go check it out.


Gemma's first confession is tomorrow and I'm totally freaking out she isn't prepared. I think it's probably a lot of first child anxiety which I need to just get through. Power through those knee-jerk first child freak outs, Christy!!

I'm really excited for her, and she's really excited, and I'm sure it'll be fine. Great. Just going to talk myself down over here...


This week of not doing any school work has been really nice. The kids are running around all the time, I'm constantly trying to keep tabs on the big kids who are riding bikes everywhere -- and Max who doesn't really have much regard for staying within my sight lines. In short; not quite sure if it's easier than school days. I'm reminded of how crazy I am to homeschool at this time of year when everyone begins freaking out their kids will be home...I think, "huh, maybe I really am nuts having them around all the time??!!" It's weird to think there's another possibility! 


We had a lot of fun talking about saints and alcohol this week on the podcast with Michael Foley. His new book Drinking with the Saints is really fantastic. Saints + cocktails is a recipe for success I think. I talked about my love of St. Germaine, and I think I'm going to buy some bubbly tomorrow so I can make the cocktail we talked about in the episode! We'll see how it tastes! I'm also on a mission to only by alcohol with a saint name. 

Next week on the podcast Haley and I are answering listener questions, and they mostly turned out to be a lot of questions on motherhood stuff and I think we rambled quite eloquently. We aren't really giving any advice, just our thoughts so tune in next week.


The lilacs are blooming so it really is the most wonderful time of the year! Yes, it's really late for lilacs and I know everyone south of me was posting lilac pics in April, but give a poor Canadian girl a break. My whole house is filled with them and the smell is really divine. I wish they lasted longer - or year round!

Hope you all have a wonderful June weekend!

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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

A smattering of picture books

It's been a while since I shared some kid's books around here which seems kinda ridiculous because we're averaging around 50 books checked out from the library, most of which are children's picture books. I feel like I'm getting to be quite the children's book expert, mostly from reading what others read to their kids on blogs. My small living room is veritably overrun with books, my dream house has many a bookshelf!

Here's a small sampling of what my kids have enjoyed the most recently, and my thanks if you've already posted about a book - I probably found it from you!


How any Peter Spier books are out of print is beyond me! They're all beautifully illustrated and this particular book of Mother Goose nursery rhymes has such sweet pictures of farm and town life from around the Revolutionary era that it's just precious. The illustrations make the nursery rhymes interesting to the older kids who have heard them before and I just love that.

Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton

This is a graphically illustrated story with a simple storyline that my kids find just hilarious. It's goofy and fun and not high literature, but a storybook of pure fun and delight.

26 Fairmount Avenue by Tomie de Paola

This is a sweet, short chapter book based on de Paola's own childhood during the 30's. He crafts memorable stories that are perfect for small kids and there is humour sprinkled in generous amounts for eager listeners. This was a hit with all my kids and is a great read-aloud for the younger set who need shorter chapters. (I'm talking to you Narnia!)

Julia's House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke

A very whimsical book full of interesting fantastical creatures that kids can't help but love. The sweet story of Julia opening her house to wandering fairy tale creatures is really darling. The boys and girls love this one and it's requested very often.

John Philip Duck by Patricia Polacco

Polacco can always be counted on to tell well developed and interesting stories, this is no exception. The story of a boy working at a hotel who loves ducks and trains them to entertain the hotel guests in the lobby is great. I'm not sure where I found this one but I'm glad I did.

I'm linking up with the lovely Housewifespice for What We're Reading Wednesday, go visit for more great reads. And Jenna for 5 Faves

All links are affiliate-thanks a bunch! 

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