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Category Archives: Thoughts

Finding Joy in the Everyday

my kitchen at rest text

Another load of dishes, another load of laundry. Another dirty diaper, another clothing change. Another cup of milk, another peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Another toy placed into the toy bin, another sock thrown into the hamper. Another sleepless minute rocking a fussing child, another drawn out hour as dinner and crankiness are juggled.

It’s easy to see life in this constant cycle of similar events day after day after day.

It’s easy to get caught in the monotony of it all and get really worn out.

It’s easy to see it as a burden with the never-ending list of chores and to-do lists.

But I want to do so much better.

The life God has given is my one and only. I want to live it wholly, from the depths of my heart. I want to live it in a beautiful way, even the very simple moments.

 

Each season will have its ups and downs — some weighing heavier on the scale in one direction or another. But I can make the choice to find joy in each day. Yes, even in my sufferings, I can choose joy.

Every person served, I can find the face of Christ. In the difficult tasks, I can “fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the Church.” (Colossians 1:24) The entire Church is lifted up through every good act!

Even my most hidden acts, do affect others. With great intention, I can make each one for His glory.

Glorifying Christ in the dishes? In the diaper changes? In the sleepless nights? In the listening to the same tale over and over? If that’s a possibility, I want to make it so!

 

It makes the yoke easy and the burden light (Matthew 11:30) to live one’s life with this in mind. It helps one come out of the funk in the monotony, out of the depression in the tiredness, out of the complaints in the trials.

It makes life worth living. It makes life beautiful.

The Finding and Keeping of Habits ~ “Better Than Before” {A Book Review}

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I’ve been anxious to pick up a copy of this book since it came out earlier this year. Gretchen Rubin’s books are a great read as they get you to stop and take a look at your life as a whole. They help you consider: Am I living an intentional and purposeful life? Am I striving for things that I want in life…or for what other people want for me? Am I living a life I am proud of?

Her newest — Better Than Before — is no exception. After exploring the concept of happiness and what it meant for her in her own life, she now explores the topic of how to develop habits, which can help lead to a better quality of life and help one grow into a better person.

“For a happy life, it’s important to cultivate an atmosphere of growth–the sense that we’re learning new things, getting stronger, forging new relationships, making better things, helping other people. Habits have a tremendous role to play in creating an atmosphere of growth, because they help us make consistent, reliable progress.”

Rubin’s intention in this book isn’t to instruct us on what habits to take on for ourselves, but rather to give us tools that help us determine which good habits we would like to inculcate in our lives {or which bad ones to quit} and some “Strategies” on how to get there based on our strengths and weaknesses.


Rubin claims that every person falls into one of Four Tendencies: Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, and Rebel. I’m still wavering between Upholder and Questioner–which makes me think I might be a Questioner, although I do tend to stick strictly to the things I’ve set out for myself to do.

After reading through the myriad of suggestions, I’ve found that her Strategy of Scheduling is one I need to incorporate more strongly into my life. I was better at this in college, but since having children, have really fallen away from the habit. It’s obviously more difficult with children, but I think having more of a schedule to our day would help me get more done, plus find more time to play with the girls {and free time with my husband}. Win-win.

“Scheduling is an invaluable tool for habit formation: it helps us eliminate decision making; it helps us make the most of our limited self-command; it helps us fight procrastination. Most important, perhaps, the Strategy of Scheduling helps us make time for the things that are most important to us. How we schedule our days is how we spend our lives.” 

I also realized from her descriptions that I do better with moderating, rather than abstaining. Having just a little of something that I’m craving and doling it out in small doses, helps me to curb that craving. Whereas, if I completely cut it out, I’m more likely to indulge in it in a big way.

“…from what I have seen, Moderators shouldn’t try to abstain; if they try to deny themselves, they can become very preoccupied with indulging.”

I like her suggestion on choosing a reward from sticking to a habit within the habit itself. For instance, some office gyms will offer the reward of a year-long free membership after sticking to a habit of going to the gym for so many days straight.

I’ve been thinking of rewarding myself with a new iPod after keeping a schedule of running three times a week for three months. {I’ll load it up with good pump up songs!}

“By finding my reward within the habit itself, with a reward that takes me deeper into the habit. If I look outside a habit for a reward, I undermine the habit.”

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Ultimately, it is not the habits themselves that give meaning to our lives but the small acts committed repeatedly. As Rubin states, “[O]ften, when we consider our actions, it’s clear that any one instance of an action is almost meaningless; yet at the same time, the sum of those actions is very meaningful.” 

I strive to live a life of meaning, one which is infused with goodness, happiness, hard work, and light-heartedness. By better striving to figure out and maintain the habits that help me towards mine and my family’s goals, I can find a way for us to live ‘better than before.’

“The conduct of our lives is the true reflection of our thoughts.” -Michel de Montaigne “Of the Education of Children”

This book has inspired me to try more earnestly with some habits I’ve been trying to take on for a while. Hopefully, I can share some success soon! 🙂

I highly recommend this book to others who are interested in learning more about the habits they form and how better to do so.

 

I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a review.

This post contains affiliate links. 

What I Learned in July

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It has been fairly quiet around here. And that’s a good thing. Lots of activities happening with my girls, work on our house and in the yard being accomplished, time for reading books and time to contemplate what I’ve read, ‘date nights’ with my husband. It’s been a good month.

I like reflective posts–posts where one looks back at what has influenced them over the past week/month/year. Emily Freeman has a monthly link-up of “Things Learned In {Fill-in-the-Month}” so I’m joining up this last day of July to fill you in on a few things I’ve learned this past month.

  • There is still hope that the United States {and world} will wake up to the atrocity that is abortion. That they will see it for what it truly is.

I haven’t watched a single video that has been released over the past week or so by the Center for Medical Progress because I know what is happening. I know it is grotesque to be ripping our children apart limb by limb in their mothers’ wombs. I don’t want to hear people speaking casually about it like it’s no big deal. But I’m glad it is being revealed so that those are blind to what is happening may actually see and hear, and, hopefully, have a change of heart. I hope this is the catalyst to truly change hearts on the issue of abortion.

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  • It is perfectly legitimate to eat ice cream for dinner when the weather has been 100+ most of the day.

I’m a bit of a rule-follower. {Despite my requests for cookies for breakfast as a child.} But I have not minded bending the “ice-cream-is-dessert” rule one bit this summer. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

  • Creativity in the kitchen feeds my soul as well as nourishes my body {and those of family}. I need to practice it.

I started out blogging as a food blogger about six years ago. It was very difficult for me during pregnancies {because of food smells} and even more so with littles running around {because we want to help, we’re hungry, etc.} but I’ve had a small ease up on these difficulties so I’m attempting to make time for it again. I love creating new recipes and sharing them with others so you should see more recipes on here weekly.

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  • Fresh flowers, even in a semi-cluttered home, make the home so much brighter.

Sometimes I hesitate to spend the four or five dollars on a bunch of flowers at the grocery. It seems frivolous. But is it? I think appreciation of beauty, particularly natural beauty, is a sign of human flourishing. Why wouldn’t I want to foster that attitude in my home?

  • That vulnerability is a good thing. It allows us to love. The opposite–shame–breaks down relationships.

This month I read Brene Brown‘s Daring Greatly. I’ve had so many thoughts on this book and I’m hoping to share more, but for now just contemplate this truth. {And if you have a second, go watch her TED Talk.}

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  • With something slightly out of the ordinary, at-home date nights are possible.

For a while, it seemed silly to me to have date night at home. I spend most of my day at home, the last thing I want is to sit at home to refresh and relax with my husband. But finding a hobby we enjoy together has made the time at home together special and unique from the usual lounging on the couch reading or watching TV. We both enjoy craft beers so we bought a beer journal and have been learning the art of beer critique all the while enjoying a brew or two and discussing it. We love it! Follow along on instagram: #muffbrews. {And I’m hoping to have Steve publish posts on our discoveries!}

  • Forgiveness is always possible {with God}. 

I’ve had my own great struggles with forgiveness but I think this would seem an impossibility for me. Praise God for all His blessings.

 

What have you learned this month?

{Also linking up with Kelly for 7QT.}

Gathering My Thoughts : {Summer Play}

strawberries

Outside my window: Plants to be watered. I’m procrastinating a bit this morning on getting outside and watering my garden but I’ll regret it if I do for too long. It’s going to be a hot one.

Listening To: Good ol’ Bebo. He’s one of our go-tos for inspirational music and a good jam.

Clothing Myself In: Comfy clothes. I slept about 4 hours last night and I have no desire to get out of clothes that I would happily fall back asleep in. Hoping for simultaneous naps this afternoon….a great joy of motherhood.

abacus fun

building blocks

fun with daddy

Talking With My Children About These Books: We have an annual favorite we get every summer: Elisha Cooper’s Beach. The beautiful watercolor pictures and descriptions of a day at the beach help relieve that itch when you can’t visit.

In My Own Reading: Just finished Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. Still processing but hoping to get a post up soon on my thoughts regarding vulnerability and shame {the topic of her book}. Next up on the book shelf: The Man of Villa Tevere by Pilar Urbano and Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin. Steve just finished the former. It’s a biography about St. Josemaria Escriva. He said it was one of the best books he’s read in a while so it’s made its way to the top of my stack of to-reads. The latter is Rubin’s latest about developing good habits in our lives and how to do that well. I’ve enjoyed her books, The Happiness Project and Happier at Home. She has some great insight into having a positive outlook on life and living one’s life intentionally. Stay tuned for a review of her latest.

Thinking and Thinking: About how quickly this summer is passing us by!

Pondering: 

“Anyone who can casually discuss tearing children to shreds while having lunch and a good cabernet is a victim of the father of lies. Anyone who thinks that divvying up murdered bodies does “a little bit of extra good” is a captive subject of the dictatorship of relativism. This video reminds me that anyone who traffics in abortion loses a vital and beautiful spark of humanity. Evil coarsens us and deadens us—robs us of the freedom life offers.”

“This week’s video put a human face on the power of the culture of death. Let us pray for those who promote and support the abortion industry. Let us pray that they might experience conversion. Let us pray that they might know mercy and freedom. Let us pray that through Jesus Christ, who came to the world as an unborn child, every abortionist might rediscover the dignity, the joy, and the beauty of humanity.”

Great thoughts by Bishop James Conley reminding us of the power and importance of prayer for those who are ensnared by the Culture of Death so prevalent in our society. Let us pray for their release from the darkness.

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Carefully Cultivating Rhythm: The warm days have us running outside first thing in the morning for some fresh air. There is a slowness to the mornings which I’m really savoring. I usually try to get a few things done in the garden while they bike and dig in the dirt. Bubbles and sidewalk chalk usually make an appearance too.

Creating By Hand: I bought some yarn for a project that will be a gift this Fall. I haven’t done any knitting projects since last winter. It’s kind of a seasonal habit for me. Time to start thinking of warmer clothes and cooler seasons.

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Learning Lessons In: Parenting an extrovert. Until our sweet Lucie came along, we were a family of introverts. 😉 She has such a strong need for interaction with others that goes beyond my comfort zone, BUT is so good for me. There are so many people we end up chatting with that we otherwise would probably have walked past because she reaches out to all that pass her by. Her need for exploration is strong, so I have to be extra vigilant about dangers to her, but I love watching her venture out. Her exuberance is a delight…and a challenge all in one! 🙂

Encouraging Learning In: Puzzle making–Evey’s absolute favorite pastime. We’ve graduated to 24 piece puzzles without a guide board and she’s fantastic at them. These petit puzzles by Petit Collage are her favorites. {And at $5 each, the price is right!} We also enjoy their floor puzzles and colorful alphabet flash cards.

farmers market haul

Crafting in the Kitchen: Weekly trips to the Farmers’ Market has yielded us an array of fresh produce to work with in the kitchen. I love supporting local farmers and enjoying such rich, flavorful food. We’re in peach and nectarine season currently. It’s been difficult holding onto enough for a pie or cobbler as the girls and I just want to munch them all up at lunchtime every day. Salads have been frequent here too as the warm weather is a strong deterrent for turning on any heat source in the kitchen. Our neighbor produces a wonderfully peppery arugula we purchase frequently.

To Be Fit and Happy: I managed two days of Barre3 last week. Hoping for three this week. There is a noticeable improvement to my energy and mental clarity on the days I dust off the cobwebs and get moving for even just 15 minutes. Gotta stay motivated.

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Loving the Moments: Family time on the weekends. Our ability to indulge in time together has increased tenfold since Steve completed his Masters program, and I couldn’t be more grateful. {Love language–quality time–may have something to do with this.} This past weekend, Steve and I spent Saturday morning working on a project for a new business endeavor he’s attempting. Then, the afternoon with Uncle Eric and Aunt Lindy swimming and enjoying dinner together. {So fun to have them closer now!} Sunday morning, we went to the State Fair in Sacramento. We enjoyed taking in a few exhibits before the sun began scorching us. Steve got a perfect hat for the hot weather that he’s been searching for for some time now. Evey and Lucie enjoyed visiting Smokey’s Safety area and learning all about fire safety. The rabbit, guinea pig, and fowl exhibit was a huge hit and we made it out without any fingers getting munched. And the kids’ play area with larger-than-life blocks was hard to pull them away from. Steve and I each enjoyed a beer at the craft brewery pavilion and meandered through the county exhibits while the girls slept in the stroller, gaining new ideas for places to explore nearby. Church and Sunday dinner together were a perfect ending to the {too short} weekend.

smokey the bear

smokey the bear

Evey fire truck

 

naptime explorations

Living the Liturgy: We are currently celebrating “Ordinary Time” in the Church’s calendar. I love this post by Laura Fanucci on 3 simple ways to celebrate Ordinary Time. Celebrating the hidden holiness of daily life. Summertime is a great time to just relax into the every day. Love it.

Planning for the Week Ahead: Cleaning and errands are the biggest things on the to-do list this week. {And that’s plenty!} We’re hoping to hit up Wee One Wednesdays in Roseville tomorrow. Storytime, art projects, and splash pad fun — all great things for some mid-week fun!

 

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Gathering My Thoughts : Summer Rhythm {And Answer Me This!}

Putting some thoughts to “paper” as we embark on a new week. {Inspired by Elizabeth Foss….}

Outside my window: Heat. We’ve had some scorchers past one hundred degrees the past few days, our first heat wave of the summer. We’ve been a little spoiled so far so I’m worried we’re in for it come July.

running

Listening To: French Cafe radio on Pandora. I love the rhythm of the sweet love songs. I keep thinking of brushing up on French. This is helping to inspire me.

Notre Dame at dusk

Clothing Myself In: Tank tops and shorts. This is my ‘mom uniform’ of the summer. Sometimes I exchange the shorts for a skirt, but easy to don and easy to move in are essentials for me of my summer wardrobe chasing two toddlers around.

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Talking With My Children About These Books: We’re a little stale with books this week as we missed our trip to the library. Same as last week. Although I’m looking forward to picking up Train Song, recommended by a friend last week that just came in at the library. Just need to get out there and pick it up!

sisters-reading

In My Own Reading: I finished Marie Kondo’s, The Magic Art of Tidying Up, this week. Still thinking over her method and how I will incorporate any of it in my own household. I like her notion of throwing out things that do not inspire joy. It reminds me a lot of William Morris’ : “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful” which I really appreciate and try to live. I certainly have some work to do in my home regarding purging but I just don’t think I will end up with things as sparse as she suggests. I’m also not into the animistic view she has regarding objects–thanking them for their assistance to you or greeting them. I am appreciative of the gifts God has given me but they come from Him, they are not living beings to be interacted with.
It was my ‘book that was originally written in a different language’ for Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Reading Challenge, as it was originally done in Japanese. Not sure which topic I will pick up next but I’m enjoying working through this list. It’s getting me outside of my comfort zone a bit in my reading topics.

kitchen-sink-window

Thinking and Thinking: Of Friday’s decision by the Supreme Court on the issue of ‘same-sex marriage’. Here are a few thoughts that I had which I posted on a Facebook group today:

Yes, it is certainly a moral issue, but what occurred yesterday is more disturbing because of its political ramifications. The justices of the Supreme Court whose very job it is is to uphold the Constitution decided to blatantly dismiss it and acquiesce to the demands of the LGBT community on the basis that it was something they “wanted”. The States have voted AGAINST this time and again, and our justices decided to override the voice of the people. This is not how our government was established. I think it certainly paves the way for further abuses of power. I pray this can get sorted out. 

And I am most certainly praying for the CHANGE OF HEART amongst those in our country who are indifferent to this issue because this is very damaging too. I believe the majority of Americans are against it, but too much into this false understanding of “tolerance” to stand up for what they really believe in and are allowing themselves and true ‘rights’ to be trampled upon. If those who were against same-sex ‘marriage’ were as convicted those who are, I think this would die. {Justice Kennedy is an excellent example of this — read his Decision if you haven’t yet.}

Praying for our country and our children.

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Pondering: There is no greater force against evil in the world than the love of a man and woman in marriage. After the Holy Eucharist, it has a power beyond anything that we can imagine. ~ Cardinal Raymond Burke

Carefully Cultivating Rhythm: I’ve been working hard to get our yard cleaned up and our garden growing, so we head out most mornings immediately after breakfast to take care of things before it heats up too much. Chores are done and errands run in the morning too. Usually that is followed by Lucie’s nap, Evey’s nap, lunch, and hanging out inside in the afternoon reading, watching a show or two or crafting. It’s a good rhythm for warm summer days.

spring-showers

Creating By Hand: Bouquets of flowers. I love fresh flowers scattered throughout the house so Evey has been helping me pick out bouquets {until our cut garden blooms!} at the grocery or farmers’ market that we bring home and throw together in vases. My mom puts together the bouquets at her parish and I’ve learned a few things from her about arranging so I’m trying to put that knowledge to good use adorning my house with beautiful arrangements.

flower-arrangement

Learning Lessons In: Stepping back from overanalyzing and more doing, talking….

sitting-at-the-park

Encouraging Learning In: ABCs — Evelyn is jumping into learning her alphabet organically. We picked up Chicka Chicka Boom Boom at the library recently. I hear her attempting to ‘read’ it herself. She tries to memorize most of the books we read repeatedly. This is working well with an ABC book as it is helping her memorize them without much effort. She also likes to do a Winnie the Pooh ABC tracing game on Daddy’s iPad so is also learning how to make them. I’m thinking of doing some more direct learning of how to write them with her. Perhaps while Lucie is napping.

chalk painting alphabet

Crafting in the Kitchen: I hadn’t been baking much lately but this week Evey and I made banana bread muffins {we added shredded coconut and pecans} which were just the perfect breakfast addition for a couple mornings and an enormous pink birthday cake for Lucie’s birthday. Ever since the calendar flipped to June and Evey spied Lucie’s birthday on the calendar, she’s been talking about making a ‘pink cake’ for Lucie’s birthday. It just so happens that Lucie is in love with strawberries so I sought out a cake that would meet both criteria. This one from Smitten Kitchen fit the bill but it was the most decadent cake I’ve had in a long time. It was like a strawberry pound cake, adorned with the sweetest cream cheese frosting. We enjoyed every bite {and we still are!}. Hopefully, more baking this coming week….

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To Be Fit and Happy: I fell off the Barre3 bandwagon when I caught a cold earlier this month, but I’m going to try to take up some more physical activity this week. I have been working hard to clear the garden of weeds so there has certainly been some physical activity this week that has left me nice and sore. Evey keeps reminding me I need to exercise so that will help get me back on track. 😉

running-at-the-beach

Loving the Moments: My girls have been very affectionate this week. I’m loving the moments were we just sit together and enjoy each other’s company. Lucie throws out kisses every time she hears a loved one mentioned, or even spontaneously. It is just the sweetest thing. Evey, who tends to be always on the go, is actually pausing to sit with me and just be. Loving this too.

at-the-park-dancing

Living the Liturgy: We had grand plans to do some sort of bonfire for the feast of St. John the Baptist this week but it didn’t happen. {Mostly due to the fact it was scorching hot outside already and we didn’t want to contribute to the heat.} We celebrated St. Josemaria’s feast with dinner out and a date night for my husband and I. He’s a great friend of ours and a big influence on our relationship. {We even had the opportunity to visit his resting place in Rome and attend Mass there on our honeymoon.}

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Planning for the Week Ahead: Fourth of July is on the horizon. Evey is into the red, white and blue and American flag so she’ll be helping me do some decorating this week. {Stars and stripes forever!} 😉 Also looking forward to seeing Steve’s family’s newly renovated cabin and helping them get moved in this week!

 

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Answer Me This! with Catholic All Year

This week’s installment of questions:

new-home

1. How long have you lived in your current home? We’ve owned our home for a little over two years now. I’m still working to make the house ‘our home’ as we’ve been distracted with several things over the past couple years, but finally making some headway painting and creating the yard we want.

2. How do you find out about news and current events? My husband. 🙂 He is much more up-to-date on what is happening the world than I am most of the time. I find out many things through Facebook, but if I want to know the world beyond what is reported there, he’s my ‘go-to’ source.

3. Would you be able to make change for a twenty right now? For a dollar? Nope. I’m rarely with cash these days. And I try to get coins out as quick as I can otherwise I have a hard time closing my wallet.

mussels

Muscles…or mussels. Get it? haha. Part of a paella dish, one of the best foods I’ve eaten–also on our honeymoon.

4. What’s the craziest food you’ve ever eaten? Frog legs? We had them in Spain on our honeymoon as my husband is more adventurous than me when it comes to food {although I tend to be pretty open to trying new things} and he ordered them. Not a fan.

5. Which of the commonly removed parts have you had removed? (tonsils, wisdom teeth, appendix, etc.) I had my adenoids removed when I was about 12. My wisdom teeth were removed along with four other adult teeth {canines} as I have the tiniest mouth on the planet and it just couldn’t accommodate eight entire adult teeth.

soccer-america

6. What’s your favorite sport to watch on TV? Soccer or American football. Although I would still rather watch these in person. I like being able to cheer LIVE.

Gathering My Thoughts: The Beginnings of Summer & Answer Me This

lucid-eating-corn

Outside my window: The heat of the summer and thoughts of making it outside to take a swim with the girls and Steve sometime this evening.

Listening To: The loud hum of the air conditioner. {Thank God for air conditioners!} Need to have it looked at before summer is in full swing. Although it may be too late…. Also, my daughters chatting and playing together. They adore each other and it makes my heart sing.

Clothing Myself In: Pjs still. There is a trend on Mondays that I just can’t break. We had a long weekend so my husband proclaimed it ‘pajama day’ so I’m only following orders, anyway. 😉

target-shoppers

Talking With My Children About These Books: Evey is on a birthday literature kick. {Well, it’s not limited too literature. She wants to bake someone a ‘birthday cake’ every day and celebrate someone’s birthday. Little party animal, that one. ;)} We picked up Bears and a Birthday and Happy Birthday, Bunny! at the library on one of our recent trips and we read them daily and discuss making Lucie’s birthday cake next week. Apparently, it is going to be the flavor of ‘pink’ — no exceptions. We’re also still making our way through books about trains. She really loves one called Locomotive. It is a beautiful non-fiction, Caldecott award book that is appropriate through late elementary school ages. Telling the story of a trip on the early railroad from the Midwest to California, she loves pointing out on the map at the front the spot that is Sacramento, where Daddy takes the choo-choo to work. We’re already working on our map skills at two-and-a-half!

In My Own Reading: These past two weeks have found me with my nose stuck in quite a few books. I finished Still Life, The Homegrown Preschooler, and A God in Ruins. I’m about to start The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I’ve been waiting on it from the library for over four months. It’s a popular one and I’m looking forward to seeing if it’s all it’s hyped up to be. {And hoping that it has a profound impact on my house making too. ;)}

Thinking and Thinking: Trying to determine where God wants us to be as a family. Now that Steve has finished his Masters program, he’s trying to figure out where to go on with his career. But that also means the possibility of us moving to another location. It’s difficult discernment. Say a prayer for us, will you?

steve-and-laurel

Pondering: “A little nonsense now and then, is relished by the wisest men.” – Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator 

Keeping light-heartedness alive in my life….

Carefully Cultivating Rhythm: Last week was hard with the girls and I sick with colds. We’re still recovering this week but I’m hoping to get back a bit to our daily schedule. Although, there are a lot of activities outside the house happening this week so we’ll see how successful we are in this.

Creating By Hand: Mostly dreaming, but really determined to get out my machine, at least by the weekend, and get some baby blankets and knit jersey dresses stitched.

yummy-pizza

Learning Lessons In: Patience. I’m running a little thin with it lately. Learning to take time for self-care makes this a much easier task.

Encouraging Learning In: Summer enjoyment. 🙂 I want the girls to remember summers as times of {mostly} family fun and relaxation. Of course, we have chores and such that never go away, but it is important to slow down and savor this season a bit.

Crafting in the Kitchen: I want to bake…but I don’t want to turn the blasted, hot oven on. Oh, the conundrum. I have a trio of well-ripened bananas on my counter begging to be made into banana bread. Perhaps an early morning baking session is in the near future.

getting-on-up

To Be Fit and Happy: I signed up for the Barre3 classes online and even started one of the programs to help keep me on track. But: sickness. It seems like every time I start to make progress in getting active again, sickness rears its ugly head and sets me back again. I have been getting out the garden and putting in a good workout with the removal of that ugly Bermuda grass, so at least there’s that.

Loving the Moments: Very proud of my brother-in-law who graduated from the Dugoni School of Dentistry at UOP. Steve and I were able to have a little “vacation” while my parents watched the girls and we attended all the festivity over the weekend. I’ll have to share a post of the revelry sometime this week. Without babes in arms, I was able to take quite a few photos. {You’ve been warned! ;)}

dental-school-graduation

Living the Liturgy: We thought about and had the intention of doing the Enthronement to the Sacred Heart together as a family on the feast day. But it came and went. {I did write up a nice, little post about devotion to the Sacred Heart, if you care to take a look.} We’re not going to give up, though. Hopefully, sometime this week it will happen.

Planning for the Week Ahead: Much on the calendar this week. I’m going to attempt to keep quiet moments for us as a family even as we forge ahead through the week’s activities. It’s essential to our well-being, collectively and individually.

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Also, joining up with Kendra for her summertime series — Answer Me This — where you get to know us bloggers a little better through a series of fun, random questions that she posts each week for us to answer. This week’s:

1. Any big plan’s for the summer? We’ve taken our two big trips of the year {New York and Los Angeles} so we’ll be hanging close to home for the summer. We’re hoping for a weekend camping trip to the coast, a day trip to San Francisco, and some time at the family cabin in Serene Lakes.

2. What is the strangest thing you believed as a child? I really can’t think of anything for this. Perhaps I am too much of a realist?

3. What is your favorite amusement park ride? (can be a specific one at a specific park or just a type of ride) I’m not a big fan of amusement park rides but I did enjoy the Medusa at Six Flags quite a bit in high school. Not sure how I would fare on it as an adult. {I seem to get motion sickness on swings now. No bueno.} I do enjoy the Ferris Wheel and Carousel, so we’ll go with those. 😉

4. What’s on your summer reading list? I’ve always got a stack of books a mile high so I’ll try to narrow it down to priorities. 😉 The one I mentioned above — The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up — is next on the list. Then, Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before, Rules of Civility by Amor Towles, On Looking: A Walker’s Guide to the Art of Observation by Alexandra Horowitz and, hopefully, some writing and copywriting books to help me step up my game.

5. Have you ever fallen asleep in public? On a park bench in Swansea, Wales. That was glorious. Also on public transit a few times, but I don’t know if that counts. I think most people do at some point if they ride it.

6. What is your favorite smell? Lavender and red, ripe strawberries.

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Caring for Oneself

reading

I get the impression that moms are feeling a bit burnt out right now. Perhaps its the school year coming to a close and the prospect of the summer in front of them. Perhaps its arriving at the mid-point of the year and looking at all they’ve accomplished {or haven’t}.

Or nothing remotely related.

I’m feeling it. The overwhelm has been washing over me much too frequently these past few weeks. I’d like to blame it all on the hormones, but I think that is giving more credit than is due to those finicky things.

What it often comes down to, and what the conversation has been about on the Net this past week or so, is self-care.

Do you take enough time for it? What does finding time for self-care mean to you? I’ve been pondering these questions, trying to find solutions to the wave of overwhelm inundating my life lately.

 



exercising with a baby

The means of self-care is personal to each. As Jenny touched on here, an introvert’s version of self-care is going to look different from an extrovert’s version.

What works for other more extroverted moms, like my little sister and some of my best friends, doesn’t actually revitalize me. And just as I need to be sensitive to the fact that my sister dearest could literally interact with another human being endlessly, for all 24 hour in a day, and nearly die of happiness for it, I also need to acknowledge that I need a good 1-2 hours of silence every night after bedtime just to feel like I’m no longer suffocating.

Summer is a great time for renewing this endeavor. With freedom from some of the normal daily tasks, there is more of an opportunity to set aside time in the day for oneself. Elizabeth delves into that more deeply here.

Sometimes, I have to be reminded that not every need must be filled by me. The bone-tired feeling? That soul-crushing fatigue? Usually they are the symptoms of self-reliance. They mean I’ve tried to save the world instead of trusting that God can accomplish His will in my life and the lives of the people I love. I take on every need as my personal mission, and I neglect to seek God’s wisdom and direction in filling the needs around me. I am certain His plan is more prudent than the full-throttle assault that is my default.

 

We need to lower our standards when they are too high to achieve any margin in our lives for rest for ourselves. Colleen writes about that here.

I think it’s OK to do any of the following if I’m feeling so overburdened by life, I’m are not quite sure how to get out of bed: 

  • put the television on for the kids so I can drink a cup of coffee or run on the treadmill in peace,
  • let the house get messy so I can read a book or engage in another pleasant activity, 
  • or scrap all the housework and put the kids in the car so I can go visit with a friend!

There are some days where it is just impossible. Sometimes we need to “fake it to make it” as Nell hints at here.

I’m not at my best. I look in the mirror and see the little kisses under my eyes called cosleepernumber3 and guiltily gave up sugar again as I was abusing it//turning to it for an afternoon pick up instead of a healthy snack//my clothing doesn’t fit like I’d like it to. But I can’t wait around for life to suddenly hand me a week of full-nights sleep, a personal trainer, and a chef. Instead, I’m determined to feel my best that I can be right now. 



There are ways to find time for ourselves. It is necessary for our well being and, dare I say, the well being of those in our charge. A burnt out mama makes for a burnt out family for a mother is truly the heart of the home.

As mothers, it’s easy to play the martyr sometimes. We tell ourselves that our children need us. We must be everything to everyone. But this is just not sustainable. We are not God. We must not play Him. {And, hey, even He rested on the seventh day.}

There are other wonderful people in our children’s lives and we must give them the opportunity to love on them as well. An engaging activity that distracts the kids while you compose yourself with a warm cup of tea and a chapter or two of a good novel is a good alternative too.

knitting and tea

Sometimes we need to step away so that we can be a better caregiver and nurturer when we are on duty  for them.



I’m working to take all of this to heart myself. I like to care for others — but I’m not good at being the one taken care of. Really, though, isn’t this selfish? How are others to practice charity if another does not accept their charity when it is given?

I maintained the unhealthy thought for a while that I could just keep pressing forward no matter how I was feeling. Always. If I was tired, I just needed to suck it up. Someone else’s need surpassed my need to rest. If I felt touched out, too bad, that little person needed to be held by me. If I was hungry, I could wait…and wait…and wait. Until I was so hungry, I was bursting at the smallest thing.

My patience for anything and everything just starts to go right out the window when I fail to take time for myself. I am learning this.

And I am learning how to make it happen.

Is making time for self-care difficult for you? How can you make it better happen in your life? I’d like to continue this conversation so I’ll be writing a follow up post soon about how we can. 

Gathering My Thoughts

Inspired by the lovely Elizabeth Foss for a gathering of my thoughts….  

Outside my window: A yard that is quite brown and dry. This drought will mean very few plants in the ground this year. We will forgo most of our vegetable garden.

Listening To: My youngest attempting to chit chat. She was taught ‘uh oh’ the other night and she’s trying to figure out all the best times to use it. {Which, for her, is most of the time.}

stick-explorations

Clothing Myself In: Still my pajamas {it’s afternoon as I write this}. If we aren’t leaving the house, I find little excuse to get myself out of my lounging clothes if I’m simply sitting with my daughters and doing chores.

Talking With My Children About These Books: Evelyn is very fond of Hey Mr. Choo Choo, Where are You Going? and Hands Say Love. Her love for trains never dies, and she has one of the most caring hearts I’ve ever encountered — no wonder she’s attracted these. Also, her Children’s Bible. She is rarely seen without it. She gets us reading a story or two every moment she catches us sitting down.

In My Own Reading: I’ve picked up a mystery novel, Still Life, for the category of “Book in a Genre You Don’t Typically Read” in the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge. I’ve never cared much for mysteries {although they are my mother’s favorite} but I’ll give them a try from time to time. The only ones I’ve really enjoyed are the couple of Agatha Christi’s I’ve read. I thought I’d jump in again as this book is highly-acclaimed and enjoyed by many whose opinions on books I trust. Also, slowly working through Parenting with Grace still.

sac-jazz-fest-family

Thinking and Thinking: Of organizing and cleaning. The summer. I have lots of grand plans for the summertime. Hoping to get them on paper soon. It always helps me to set goals {and accomplish a few} if I get them written out. Family time and REST are high on top of the list. Also, thinking of how to be more intentional with “educational” things with Evelyn. I’m not talking workbooks just yet, but perhaps themed gatherings of books at the library and working on shapes, letters, numbers in our sidewalk chalk, etc.

Pondering: “[U]topias pull us forward. It would be sad if a young man or woman didn’t have a utopian dream. There are three things we all need to have in life: memory, capacity to see the present, and a utopian vision for the future. We can’t lose our memory. When nations lose their memory, there’s the great drama of neglecting the elderly. Capacity to analyze the present, to interpret it and know the path to follow with that memory, with those roots we carry, how I have to handle the present. That’s the life of young people and adults. And the future, that’s for the young people above all and for the children [to determine], with memory, with capability of managing the present, of discerning, and a utopian vision for the future, which is where young people are involved. That is why the future of a nation is shown in caring for the elderly, who are the memory, and for the children and young people, who are the ones who will carry it forward. We adults have to receive that memory, work on it in the future and give it to the children. I once read something very beautiful: ‘The present, the world we have received, is not only an inheritance of the grownups, but rather a loan given us by our children so we can give it back better than it was.’ If I cut my roots and I lose my memory, that which happens to every plant will happen to me: I am going to die; if I live only in the present without looking at forward to the future, I will suffer the same thing as every bad administrator who doesn’t know how to make projections. Environmental pollution is a phenomenon of that kind. The three have to go together; when any of them is missing, a nation beings to decline.” -Pope Francis

Carefully Cultivating Rhythm: Trying to find a good rhythm to our day. It is hard as nap times shift, but more and more often I’m able to get the girls down together. It makes the whole day better when this occurs. Otherwise, I spend most of it at home while one naps, then the other, than the first back down again….next thing I know, it’s time to make dinner.

red-ladies-in-target-shopping

Creating By Hand: I haven’t done much lately and I’m looking forward to some sewing projects this summer. More embroidery and trying my hand at making the girls some knit dresses.

Learning Lessons In: Finding peace in this phase of life. I like schedules, I like predictability — neither of which happens too often these days. It’s a good lesson in letting go and letting God.

abc-chalk-art

Encouraging Learning In: Evelyn is beginning to learn her ABCs and she enjoys singing songs and memorizing prayers. We’re going to be doing a lot more of these this summer. Also, thinking of breaking out some chapter books to read before nap time. Lucie is learning to take steps. She started walking a few weeks ago. We’re learning boundaries and safety — s.l.o.w.l.y. She’s an adventurous one. 😉

L-learning-to-walk

Crafting in the Kitchen: We’ve missed going to the Farmers’ Market on Saturdays, so we’ll be back there and cooking more seasonally. I like incorporating lots of fresh fruits and veggies in our meals so I’m going to make more of an effort in that regard these next few months.

E-bike-ride

To Be Fit and Happy: I haven’t done well in this area for a while now. I’m signing up for a Barre 3 challenge during the month of June. Keep me accountable, please! 🙂

Loving the Moments: I love watching my girls interacting and playing with each other more and more. I never had a sister so it delights my heart that they have each other. It’s worth the ear-splitting squeals of delight.

sacred-heart-parish-sacramento

Living the Liturgy: One of my favorite feast days is coming up: the Feast of the Sacred Heart. Perhaps we’ll do an enthronement at home together.

Planning for the Week Ahead: Attempting to get house projects moving forward. I bought the paint yesterday for our bathroom. It has a rather small wall surface area so shouldn’t take me too long. Hopefully, I can get it done during a nap time or two. Planting a few things before the heat hits hard. Searching out and finding a good weekly rhythm with the girls for the summer months ahead.

 

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My Domestic Mission {Blessed is She}

“I am a missionary. Yet, I have never been on a mission.

I live out my mission each day in my home.

Missionary work calls us to give of ourselves to those in need. Some of the neediest ones I have right before me every day. My little ones require food, clean bodies, education, entertainment. They require my attention, my affection, my affirmation, my heart.”

Click here to read more.

Sharing my thoughts on my ‘missionary’ work at the Blessed is She blog this week.

They Are People Too

traveling by plane

Traveling across country with two children this past weekend was an eye-opening experience. Not because of the difficulties inherent in the process {we were anticipating those}, but because of the imposed stigma of society as we dared to travel with our young children.

Apparently, it’s not something our culture really approves of.

An article published this morning by Verily addresses this issue of the disgust many in society aim at parents and their progeny as they integrate themselves in the normal routines of daily life.

“Simple things like parents with young children being allowed to board a plane first so that their babies don’t have meltdowns in long queues are not signs that society is valuing parents more highly than anyone else, it’s just an acknowledgment that parents have different needs and that children are worthy of participating in society.”

We actually weren’t allowed to board first. We asked; it didn’t happen. Those needs weren’t acknowledged, or at best, were brushed aside. The elderly and handicapped were allowed to board first, but then those who had paid extra {about half the plane} were allowed on before we could go through the gate.

It seems common sense to me to let young children and their guardians board early as it takes more time for us to move through the process. Isn’t that why they allow elderly and handicapped through first too? Truly, I’m expecting them to be brushed aside as well.

Making money will become the ultimate motivator, not quality service for those they serve. Not seeing to the best for every customer based on his or her individual needs. That will be subsumed by the wants of the whole and only be allowed if they agree to it. Those who will be first will be the ones who paid for it because money can buy happiness if it comes in the form of boarding a plane five minutes earlier than everyone else.

I won’t even go into the sideways glances we received while attempting to bring babies onto the plane. The How dare you impose your child’s noise on me? looks. I’m sorry, I don’t appreciate your loud snoring as you rest either but that doesn’t disqualify you from riding on a plane.

There were also many sideways glances as we walked down busy city streets. Many comments that implied, Why would you subject yourselves to such an endeavor? 

Perhaps because we are hoping to instill a love of travel in them just as we do. Perhaps because we love to spend time with them and want to do so whenever possible. Perhaps because we want them to be able to delight in the joy of meeting new people, adventuring in new places.

The baby spent most awake moments in her stroller squealing with delight as we passed people on the sidewalk, trying to capture their attention. She likes people. She likes to be outside. Sure, walking is slower with a stroller. It takes longer to get places. It is often more cumbersome. But should I deprive them of the joy of the journey because it is more difficult?

The toddler was beside herself meeting the REAL Winnie the Pooh, her favorite character on the planet. She beamed from ear-to-ear as her daddy held her and read her whatever books she chose off the seemingly endless rows of books in the massive library collection. {MUCH larger than anything we have at home.}

We couldn’t make it to as many things as we would have on our own but we delighted in the few things that we could.

 

The reason we were traveling was to attend the wedding of friends. I arrived early with the girls to find a good spot near the side toward the back so I could make a quick getaway to the vestibule if needed. But as we were sitting there, the priest officiating came up to me and said, “Babies cry. Don’t feel ashamed if your baby is crying. You don’t need to leave.” He joked, too, saying, “Please do find out what is wrong if the baby is crying because that is why the child cries is to let you know something is wrong. But don’t ever feel ashamed that your child is crying because that is what babies do.”

And you know what? Despite my littlest trying to sing along every time the choir broke into song, I didn’t feel the need to leave because he made me feel like my child being there was just as important as every person there.

I pray the tides turn and more people come to realize that our little persons are important people too.

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