Thursday, March 24, 2016

Holy Week thoughts on the everyday cross

As usual Holy Week arrives and carries us towards the Triduum in unexpected ways...except with a kid getting sick, because a kid always gets sick in Holy Week. (Or I go into labor. Ok, that only happened once, but I stand by the "kid always getting sick in Holy Week" axiom.)

It's funny that I can't let go of expectations for Lent and Holy Week even though each year my expectations are drastically not met because God completely goes off my plans and throws in new things. God doesn't follow my plans? What? My expectations usually aren't too big and exciting either, but even my lowly ones are changed and that in of itself always is a suffering to me who hates to have plans disrupted.

Every year I want to walk through Holy Week like a monastic. With loads of prayer and fasting, Tenebrae and adoration, silence and observation. But without fail plans change, I can't even make it to each Triduum liturgy, I'm usually running around trying to find pants for kids 15 minutes before Mass begins, and I forgot to buy an extra something for the Easter baskets.

It's hard to realize and accept that the little sufferings we're given are our sufferings. What we want to do with God we often can't. What we think shouldn't be difficult is. What we're meant to offer up as we walk with Jesus through his Passion is often the things we ignore, dismiss, or don't consider something worthy enough to offer as suffering along with Christ's in this week.

That's been one of my revelations to me this Lent -- that I've got more crosses than I'd care to admit. Which feels like the opposite of a Lenten revelation, because I feel most people come out of Lent realizing they've got so darn much to be thankful for.

I'm not talking about giant crosses that are new to my life, I'm talking about small crosses that almost build up without me noticing but have added up to quite a burden I wasn't even aware of. But even these small sufferings, the sufferings we don't choose or even see at times, are meant to be offered along with Christ's sufferings. The problem is if you don't even know they're there and weighing you down, you can't offer them up.

In that regard it's good to acknowledge the little burdens, the constant ones. Because there's a lot of grace waiting for us, and a lot of good that can come from offering our sufferings.

That's my Holy Week takeaway this year, what I've gleaned from a Lent that trudged through in a pretty ordinary way. But I've got a lot of hope in the joy of Easter.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

What I've Been Reading Lately

Checking in with some good reads I've read lately...or a couple months ago...I'm not behind or anything...

Dead Cold by Louise Penny

The second book of the Gamache series and I quite enjoyed it. The plot itself was pretty quirky and bordered on highly unbelievable, but there is just something I find really comforting about this series. I know, I'm weird that I find detective fiction comforting, but there is something about recurring characters, a cozy village, and an intelligent man of integrity solving mysteries that just makes me feel like I'm sitting by a warm fire under a soft blanket.

The Last September by Nina de Garmont

This novel is the tale of a marriage told by a wife after her husband has been found dead. It reads like a physiological thriller in a lot of ways, and the writing is quite good. I don't know if I would have enjoyed it more if the characters themselves were more likeable or not, but it was definitely a better book than Gone Girl which is sorta in the same bent. If you like books that provide that secret window into a marriage then you'd probably enjoy this one.

Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal

For a really well reviewed, and what seems to be a very well-liked recent novel, this just didn't hit the mark for me. I love food books, food novels, foodie lit, and since this novel is about the life of an up and coming female chef named Eva and the lives of those around her I thought it would be right up my alley as a sure fire hit. But each chapter is about a different character in her life and for some reason although each chapter was original, I felt like it didn't actually move the story of Eva herself along enough. I wanted more plot, less character sketches. But it wasn't terrible!

Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr

I think I've talked about this book before, but if you missed me talking about it: I REALLY LOVED THIS BOOK. A memoir of Doerr's life in Rome for a year with his young family, including twin baby boys, this book is probably one of the best books about Rome, parenthood, and writing that I've ever read. Doerr has a beautiful honesty, yet a complete talent for writing incredible sentences. It's short, but poignant. I also liked seeing his view of St. John Paul II's funeral, a neat perspective.

The Lake House by Kate Morton

If you've ever read a book by Kate Morton, let alone two books by Kate Morton, you know she has a formula. Now, it's obviously a really successful formula - jumping back and forth in time from a few characters perspectives, a family mystery being involved, neatly wrapped up ending. Now, I criticize this, but I also have to say I usually enjoy reading her. This book I think I liked almost as much as The Secret Keeper which I think is her best work. I think where Morton has the most talent is when she writes characters who are older. I feel she just has a great knack for bringing the older person's viewpoint into vivid life. She does that again here in this novel which is probably what I enjoyed the most about it.

Checking in with Modern Mrs Darcy and Quick Lit and Ashley with Five Faves!

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Friday, March 11, 2016

Seven Quick Takes vol. 138

I've been neglecting Kelly lately, but I hope you haven't - jump over there for the greater takes!


March has rolled in a bit dreary and tired. Much like how winter feels to me right now. The temperatures haven't been cold but everything is still frozen and covered in snow. Melting has begun on days where it's sunny, but we had a stretch of 4 cloudy, foggy days and I basically told God that if I wanted to live in constant drear, I'd move to Seattle. The sun came out after that. It's a sign.


In other words, things are feeling awfully Lent-y around here. Which is good. I'm still trying to clean and organize, still am feeling the simple meals because I just don't feel like I have the desire to cook much. I can't tell if I'm feeling exhausted just by normal life, or if I'm in a cooking slump. Either way - it's Lent and last night I made potato pancakes for dinner.


I jumped into attempting to paint peg dolls for the first time last weekend. A great friend of mine suckered invited me to a saint doll swap she organized and I reluctantly agreed because I fear my artistic ability THAT much. So I tried to pick the simplest saint I could and keep things really, really simple. I think it turned out well and I spent most of last weekend painting 20 little Saint Gemmas. I've got another coat of sealer to go and she'll be ready to go. It definitely wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, but it does make me wish I had more talent when it comes to things artistic and painting. It's a beautiful craft. And now all of my big kids would like to make their own, which of course will be possible as long as they don't have to be actually swapped. 


What have you been watching lately? Anybody watching the new season of The Walking Dead? 

Of course Downton was a delightful finish last week. I loved pretty much all of it. I was really happy for Isobel and Lord Merton, it was just so cute how she took him home and told him they were getting married - and Julian Fellowes couldn't even kill him off, thank goodness! Edith looked beautiful in her wedding dress, and Anna looked really good right after giving birth, and of course Mary's pregnant and she's going to have Matthew Goode's beautiful baby! Oh, I'm sorry, fictional characters...but I just have a great affection for Matthew Goode, not at all based on his looks....oh no...

I still am watching Last Man On Earth because I just think it's the quirkyest thing on tv and get so much joy from it's silliness. I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, but I just love it.

We also watched Creed last weekend and it was a very decent Rocky movie. I was most impressed by the musical restraint and that I didn't have to listen to the Rocky Theme for two straight hours. 


Two weeks till Easter seems crazy doesn't it? I'm currently still trying to figure out what people will be wearing. I bought the girls matching dresses because I couldn't resist. I just ordered almost every dress from Gap and Banana Republic to try on for myself after going to Anthro last week gift certificate in hand only to be disappointed. But the boys. I just wish there was more options for decent not-casual wear for boys. They already wear collared shirts and khakis to church every week, it's really hard to even find them a special tie for Easter. I know I've complained about this every year...


Last week we had the wonderful Rachel Balducci on the podcast! She's honestly one of my favourite people from the online world, and I'm pretty much her fangirl. But she's such a pleasure to hear speak and I really appreciate her common sense when it comes to parenting. Hope you get a chance to listen! 


I am giving away a PDF copy of Michele Chronister's lovely new children's Way of the Cross, In The Footsteps of Jesus today. Michele has done a wonderful job making the Stations of the Cross approachable and simple for young children and this is a great book to take to Mass with you, or to Stations of the Cross, or to pray with at home. I have really loved introducing my kids to the Stations of the Cross with this book! Just like a couple Facebook pages to enter, and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Amazing Winter Blanket of 2016

You know what they say - "It's my blog and I'll post a bunch of craft pictures if I want to!"

I promise this will be quick, but when you spend 6 months working away at a project you really feel as if it deserves some documentation, you know?

I think I started crocheting this blanket sometime in October. Just when the days become much shorter than the nights and we were plunged into darkness around 5 pm up here. For some reason there's something a bit comforting having a project to plug away at when you're spending a lot more hours indoors. It's also great while watching the plethora of sporting events that happen during the fall and winter with your husband. You're doing something that doesn't make your brain turn into mush, yet you're sorta convincing your husband that you enjoy partaking in 3 hour games with him on the couch. It's gotta be a win-win.

I used the "Harmony" pattern from the amazing Lucy at Attic24 because her colours are marvellous and I just love how her finished products look. I also don't have a ton of time to look through pattern upon pattern and then go through the monstrous selections of amazing yarn out there right now, I'd just be paralyzed by indecision if I spent more than an hour deciding on a project and no project would actually happen. So I just conveniently ordered her amazingly affordable package of yarn and was happy within a week!

I think this pattern started out with 17 different patterns of granny squares totalling about 130 squares. I thought I'd be making squares for months but it actually flew by. I would usually pick up my crocheting whenever we watched tv, and when I needed some "alone time" after the husband got home from work and it was just me and Alicia Florrick crocheting up a storm, (I may have been binge watching all of The Good Wife during this time).

Then once the individual granny squares were finished it was time to join them and this is where I completely lost my mind and strayed from the pattern that Lucy so clearly and simply laid out in the easiest to follow manner. I mean, the pattern is meant to look random so no real harm was done, but my ego suffered fiercely when I figured out I had completely messed up three or four rows in a completely unintelligible way. Was I drunk for a few weeks while I did those rows? Did I have a temporary brain malfunction? Was it during that terrible time of the beginning of season 5 of The Good Wife when Carey/Logan was being framed and was in prison and I was suffering from severe anxiety over it?

I'm just putting this error on the record. It is Lent after all.

The joining went well and I liked how it made the squares so cohesive and didn't involve sewing but actual crocheting. I am the worst at sewing pieces together and even sewing ends in. The sewing in of ends took probably the longest in this project, thank goodness I loved it so much or I probably would have given up sewing in ends it took so long!

For some reason I puttered away at the border for a couple weeks but it's easy, and I love how it looks with the entire blanket now.

I'm a granny square lover. For life.

And just like last winter's project got claimed by a little person, this blanket was claimed from the very beginning by Max. I'm trying to detach myself and let him have it on his bed, but it's a process.

He might get it by June.

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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Christy's homeschool day in the life(with 8-,7-,6-,4- & 2-year-old)

Whoa. Is that post title really my life?

Wow. That escalated quickly.

I'm joining up with Simple Homeschool's linkup of day-in-the-life posts because I haven't done one in about a year (sorry if you are tired of reading about homeschooling, I'm so over-the-top about it, aren't I?) and things are so different every year. I hope this will be a nice little time capsule to one day look back on. (But I never look back at old blog posts because I die of embarrassment! I'm a walking contradiction over here!)

Before I get into the nitty-gritty: we definitely lean towards routine and not going by the clock, our days vary in intensity depending on my energy level, the toddlers energy levels, and the weather, but for the most part this is what our days look like on the whole. Our afternoons can look different if there are errands, appointments, or activities which means we're usually gone all afternoon because we live 25 min. from our town. Disclaimer finished.

7:00-8:00 am: I usually wake up sometime after 7 and try to get in some quiet time for myself. It truly makes me a nicer person to be around. I try to start with morning prayer, then I check Facebook and emails, read my favourite blogs, and try to eat something myself because if I don't eat now I won't get another chance till after lunch!

8:00 am: The kid's wake up/are released from their rooms! The kids are usually awake before 8, but I really need some time to myself so they follow our household rule that no one comes out of their rooms other than to use the bathroom until mom comes to wake them up. Usually the toddler/preschooler talk to themselves or their siblings, sometimes they're still asleep when I go in, sometimes they're screaming at me, the big boys usually play lego quietly in their room before I wake them. I give them their breakfast as soon as possible to avoid mass rebellion, and we usually try to do poetry memorization during breakfast as well as reading the life of the saint of the day. We alternate between poems and Shakespeare and it's pretty freaking adorable to have your 2-year-old be able to recite Shakespeare, if I do say so myself.

8:30-9:00: The kid's do a couple chores, unload the dishwasher, put away laundry, pick up the bathroom, wipe the table etc. while the younger kids play. I usually am running around dealing with people's bathroom issues, finding underwear, washing dishes, finding a child emptying a pantry, turning off faucets that have been left on(why??) and the like. After chores I usually let them do whatever they want so they'll be playing, drawing, crafting or whatever. They've got plenty of books they read or at least look at themselves on varying topics. Right now it's Korea, space exploration, Little House picture books, and Star Wars, naturally.

9:00: Sometime after 9 when I've had sufficient coffee and have gotten the kitchen in some semblance of order we sit down to do what sorta is morning time. I'll read aloud from our current read-aloud, then I'll work with one of the older three on their particular catechism lesson, or I'll read a some kind of history or science book. We loop the subjects so every day we'll tackle something a little different but it will be read aloud by me and we'll try and talk about it altogether since my kids are so close in age this works well for us. The toddlers meanwhile are pulling the house apart, trying to jump off every piece of furniture, spending time in the corner, and ignoring the puzzles and games they've been given to play with at this time. You know, the ushe.


9:50-10:15: Sometime in here I need a break. I lovingly encourage everyone to go downstairs and play before I assign tedious tasks of cleaning or banishment. I will usually also spend some one on one time with the littles so they become less howler-monkey-like. They will usually want to wash dishes with me, have a special story, or ask me to do a puzzle. I try and squeeze this time in so they'll be a bit satisfied while I do sit-down work with the big 3.

10:15: I work with Luke, the 6-year old, as we go through his sit-down work of writing and reading practice. It doesn't take too long, usually 30-40 minutes. He is really active so the short period of time focusing and sitting is perfect for him. While I'm working with him the older kids are entertaining the littles downstairs.

10:45-11:30 or 12:00: I do sit down work with the older two kids. We work through their writing practice everyday, then do reading/phonics. I just feel so much better about life by making writing/reading a consistent everyday thing. It also doesn't take them too long, we cover spelling and phonics, and it goes by quickly. If toddlers can't behave downstairs they get to spend some alone time in their cribs. It's honestly not that long, they can handle it.

11:45 - lunch: The kids get to watch some kind of tv. Usually Wild Kratts and Ready, Jet, Go. I'm usually a bit fried by now and just need a bit of time to de-compress. This is my only time in the day to write, or edit, or work on podcast stuff, or email without a TON of distractions. The kids usually rummage for snacks sometime during this time as well.

12:30: Usually lunchtime. Since we enjoy the benefits of getting up late we aren't famished for lunch until about 12:30 or so. One of the older kids will help make sandwiches and we try to keep the starving little people at bay with fruit and nuts. Sometimes we listen to an audio book during lunch, sometimes classical music, sometimes a musical, sometimes I just want to listen to my own podcast so they must create their own diversions.

1:00: Math time! I know we're capable of getting all our schoolwork done before lunch. But I just found trying to cram it in with 3 people to teach and 2 people to fend off was making me crazy. So we just do math after lunch when we're all a bit refreshed, it's worked fairly well this year. Usually the toddlers are either still refusing to eat their lunch so they're just at the table, or they're running off happy to have escaped being forced to finish their lunches. Again, math doesn't take too long because my kids are young.

1:30-2:00: If there are still chores left to do this is the time they need to get done, or this is more play time or craft time or the kids will take turns playing education apps on the iPad.

2:00-the rest of the afternoon: Outside time! We live out in the country so the kids can go out and roam and play on swings and do whatever. They're usually out for at least an hour unless the weather is bad, and I try to go out and get some outside time in here as well. Then we'll walk over to my parents house who live nearby, we'll spend time there, the 2-year-old will have a nap, then we walk home.

5:00-8:00: The kids will play board or card games while I throw together some kind of dinner, or they'll draw, or just occupy themselves downstairs. Or puzzles of all shapes and sizes appear with a million pieces spread all over the floor-but it's supper time so I ignore the chaos or else we wouldn't eat. My husband is usually home by 6, we'll eat shortly after. Then my husband takes over - he'll read them more books, or help with math if the older kids need it, or just build forts in the basement until it's time for baths, prayers, and bed. Since it's winter I usually hole myself up in my bedroom and do laundry, or read, or crochet, or just watch copious amounts of The Good Wife.

8:00-till I go to bed: The kids are in bed and I'm exhausted and pretty much done. I'll fold laundry while watching tv, or play a game with my husband, then I have a bath and go read in bed until I can't keep my eyes open any longer so I can do it all again tomorrow!

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