Friday, September 30, 2016

Seven Quick Takes vol. 149

Hi Kelly!


It's the last day of September. I barely know where this month went, and yet I do because it was fairly packed! I only posted twice here on the blog, and no quick takes! I miss blogging, I'm going to try and get back on the writing wagon in October. 
September is so busy for a lot of reasons, and for all those plus a camping trip, a weekend away for me, and trying to get everyone back on track with school writing just slides to the bottom of my list somehow. But look out October, I'm going to write....some....stuff....some....time....maybe...


Shockingly, homeschooling is still exhausting. After having a couple of really rough Septembers the last few years, this year I approached September differently. I thought I'd ease into school, or "soft start" as I've been calling it, with an emphasis on getting back into a good routine even without all our subjects or going hard for 5 days each week. I think it's helped. Probably because my personality demands order and instant action, I have a tendency to make my kids insane during September. And when I demand instant back-to-school-readiness/why-aren't-you-understanding-all-the-things the first few weeks of school it does not make for the best learning environment. The hardest and most important thing about homeschooling though is to cultivate and maintain a daily rhythm and expectation of learning everyday, so I feel if I consciously focus on that for the first month instead of ticking off my boxes the rest of the school year is miles more productive, I'm happier, the kids are happier, all over better. But it does involve a lot of attention on my part for the first month, hence no writing time on the daily. But hopefully this leads to good things for the year. And that's enough school talk.


Two weeks ago I was lucky enough to get to go to the Blessed Is She team retreat in Minnesota and it was just lovely! Everything was just so much fun and really rewarding. It was amazing to finally meet a lot of wonderful women I've known online for so long, and to see other friends again - like we're real friends!! What?! Nell was wonderful as you obviously expect, and I love my Minnesota friends, I may have to move to the balmy state and live next door. I'm still incredibly humbled to be part of this ministry overall, and feel at any moment I should be kicked out for being the worst writer around. 

Also; travelling. By myself. Feels like a surreal, glamorous dream. Always and forever.


But back down to earth here this week. My husband is really busy at work for the next week or two and it's involving working weekends and 14 hour days. I'm just trying to stay in a constant state of denial/survival so we'll see how that goes. Only good things ahead I'm sure.


I haven't been watching too much because....all of the above! But I liked the first new episode of Poldark! Stuff actually happened! I did feel like last season moved quite slowly at times so I hope this season is better paced. I'm also so happy that everyone has important conversations on the cliffs overlooking the ocean, I'm glad that's just something they naturally do no matter where they live. 


The podcast is up and running with new episodes if you haven't gotten a chance to listen yet. We chatted about books we love for girls because we love books...and are girls! 

Then we talked to Tommy Tighe, the hilarious Catholic Hipster of Twitter fame. We laughed a ton and made a million jokes about Haley's toilet. Then we talked about the real life stuff like living with grief and the death of a child. I thought it was a really interesting conversation and Tommy's perspective was really good to hear. 


Almost all our leaves have fallen! It's so very sad. I like everything about fall but the fact the pretty leaves fall off the trees. And of course, the darkness. But it feels sad to go to bare trees so quickly after a lush green summer. Today it's rainy and cold, and although we've already had several nights of frost since a week or two ago, the next several nights are forecast to be below freezing so anything left alive will definitely bite the dust. 

Here's to surviving a working weekend, have everything pumpkin for me!

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

What I've Been Reading Lately

Hello book lovers! Checking in today with some quick lit of what I've been reading lately - let me know if you've read any and what you think.

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

The second mystery of J.K. Rowling's alter ego, Robert Galbraith (I really, really want a writing alter-ego), and I found this one just as enjoyable as the first. Yes, the plotting isn't too complex, but the characters make it more than worth it. I loved that this novel took place in the publishing industry, and Strike still is an entertaining character.

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson

I feel like I haven't read too much non-fiction this year, and definitely needed something in the narrative fiction realm. Dead Wake is the story of the last crossing of the British passenger ship the Lusitania and how it was sunk by a German U-Boat in 1915, which in turn ratcheted up American animosity towards Germany in the Great War. This was a satisfying read to me and I enjoyed all the extra tidbits thrown in like President Wilson's love life and life in a u-boat. I felt this was really well told, but also gave me a much richer understanding of life at this time.

You Can Share the Faith: Reaching Out One Person at a Time by Karen Edmisten

I love Karen, and I love her writing. This book is an approachable and well-written book about what sharing the faith really looks life in real life. Karen shares personal stories that perfectly illustrate how impactful simple sharing of the faith in daily life can be, as well as good advice as to how not to hit people over the head with the faith. I really enjoyed her tone and approach and it really encouraged me in sharing the faith with people I know. We also talked with Karen about her book on a recent episode of the podcast.

Love, Loss, and What We Ate by Padma Lakshmi

I almost feel embarrassed sharing that I read a minor celebrity's memoir. The fact is though that I'm a Top Chef addict and Padma is a siren. I was surprised that I found her life so interesting. I really liked how she described her childhood growing up in America but also spending a lot of time in India with her extended family. Her falling into modelling, food show hosting, and dating billionaires wasn't hard to read either! I felt the book was just the right pace so no one part of her life was given extra time, although I could have gone for more behind the scenes of Top Chef, but again, I'm an addict.

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

This book was recommended by Modern Mrs Darcy and her summer reading guide and I was skeptical, but tried it out anyway. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the story of Jane Eyre turned serial murderess. It's dark, it's only losely based on Jane Eyre, but for some reason it worked for me. It's on the darker side, but not to a goring or shocking degree I felt, and if you like interesting homages to your favourite literary characters without taking themselves too seriously this would be a good read for you. Definitely on the fun side!

Joining Modern Mrs Darcy's Quick Lit gang - only a week or so late - yikes, it's been a busy September! 

*Contains affiliate links - I've made 66 cents this quarter, thanks guys! ;)

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Thursday, September 1, 2016

Mother Teresa and Me

I realize now that the title to this post makes you think I have a dramatic Mother Teresa story like those one you sometimes hear. But no, I didn't cross her path when I was 12 years old and decide to become a nun then and there. Nor did I eat, pray, love my way through India and happen upon her houses and made a radical conversion to the Faith. Although, both those stories would be awesome and I hope someone is writing those memoirs for me to someday read!

But I have been thinking about Mother Teresa lately because of her upcoming canonization, and I've come to the conclusion that her words have really had a profound effect on my life. Not that her words have so much as dramatically changed my life's path, but they really have helped form my view of vocation, kindness, and what attitude to have in life. Which are pretty big things when you start thinking about them.

I think I picked up her phrase "Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness; kindness in your face, kindest in your eyes, kindness in your smile" early on. For some reason it really stuck with me. Maybe because I've never felt naturally empathetic or compassionate, something about this quote struck me that the little things I do can matter -- and even I can smile.

I'm the first to tell you that my every encounter with every person in my life is not blessed with Mother Teresa's compassion, but I can smile! The first step on the long road to becoming a saint with Mother Teresa's compassion may be smiling at the stranger, smiling at the person who gets on your nerves the most, smiling when you child asks you for the 600th time for raisins.

"Where God has put you, that is your vocation. It is not what we do but how much love we put into it." This kept me going through much second guessing, soul searching, wondering what would become of me in my early years, and even my early married years when I was trying to figure out just what this vocation would mean for me. These words hold a beautiful simplicity that's easy to go back to when things feel complicated and confusing. Mother Teresa's wisdom was poignant and simple, a sure testament to her holiness I think.

"Where does love begin? It begins at home. Let us learn to love in our family. In our own family we may have very poor people, and we do not notice them, We have no time to smile, no time to talk to each other,. Let us bring that love, that tenderness into our own home and you will see the difference." I think these words have shaped what I want my home to be, and have given me direction when I feel useless at mothering. My work is important. Even if I cannot be rescuing the dying off the streets of Calcutta, and I can still participate in the same calling to love as Mother Teresa. Isn't that an crazy and amazing aspect of our Faith? That even though we're not spiritual giants or devoted our entire lives to heroic feats of compassion, that we can still live the same way the saints do? That's really what faith does, what living a life of love does. I need to keep reminding myself of this often when the little things around my house feel like drudgery or even meaningless; the love of a home and of a family are so important.

I've been both inspired and refreshed by this wonderful book Works of Love Are Works of Peace. The photographs of Mother Teresa, her sisters, and their work are staggeringly beautiful. It is so revealing to see them caring for those who otherwise would never have experienced love, but also to see the human faces of those whom she helped. I think we are all blown away by the way Mother Teresa served others and lived her life and that's why her words carry so much importance and meaning. The chosen quotes and prayers of Mother Teresa go along perfectly with the beauty of the photographs, together it brings about a wonderful testament and experience of St. Teresa of Calcutta. This book would really make a wonderful gift for the Mother Teresa fan in your life(we all have em!) or just a personal tool in your own prayer life. I'm so looking forward to our Church celebrating St. Teresa of Calcutta as part of the Communion of Saints!

Ignatius Press gave me a review copy of this lovely book for review, but my opinions are entirely my own!

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