Tuesday, November 15, 2022

On low expectations

My house is currently filthy.

The living room is one solid layer of toys and dress-up clothes, the office is a sea of papers, markers, and crayons, and the dining room is sprinkled with dried granola. The baby, thankfully, went down for a nap (in the bedroom and not on me!), and my first instinct was to clean everything frantically. However, my husband and I are trying to teach our kids how to clean up after themselves, and I made it clear to my kids that I would clean with them, but not for them. To which they responded with a wave of a hand and a declaration that "I'm not going to clean." Particularly since I’m on day 2 of not having a voice, thanks to the cold that our family is dealing with, I have no motivation to instruct them on every single piece they need to pick up.

Saturday, November 5, 2022

The Gift of Dialogue (and how my marriage benefits from it)

I remember sitting in the darkened basement with my family and my fiancé as we prepared for a movie night. Soon, My Favorite Wife began. For years, my family and I had regularly watched and enjoyed this classic movie. However, this was the first time I was watching the movie as an engaged woman. Seeing the humorous antics of Cary Grant's character (who discovers that he is accidentally married to two women at once) as I was preparing for marriage was not what I expected. 

In the beginning of the movie, Nick (played by Cary Grant) gets married for the second time. His first wife had been reported dead when, seven years ago, she was on a foreign expedition. Yet, all these years later, just after marrying another woman, Nick discovers that his first wife is alive and has returned to be with him. Thus ensues a series of misadventures as Nick awkwardly tries to figure out how he'll break the news to his second wife. Cary Grant really builds up the humor of the situation. Yet, as my soon-to-be-husband and I sat there, I thought about how poor communication is billed as funny only when it is fiction. 

It's the basis for countless comedies out there, but in reality, a lack of communication is no joke. 

What husband or wife actually thinks it is funny if his or her spouse does not communicate effectively--or even lies? I'm sure we've all seen relationships suffer when there is poor communication. While a communication breakdown (in addition to other factors) can lead to divorce, estrangement, and visibly broken families, it can also impact those families who--from all outward appearances--are stable and have "good" relationships with each other. 

Hidden from the public's view there live biting words, snippy comments, and simmering tension from unaddressed concerns. Poor communication can slowly hammer away at a couple's unity, pushing them further apart from each other. This, in turn, trickles down to their children. Not only are children affected by their parents' problems and tension, but they do not see and learn what good communication consists of. 

Couples need to cultivate healthy communication together, both for themselves and for their kids. 

Back in 2016, I wrote about communication when my husband and I were a few years into marriage. We are now nine years into marriage and have four delightful children (ranging in age from newborn to six years old). Healthy communication is a never-ending journey for us. We have grown a lot in cultivating clear, unitive communication as a couple, but we continue to learn and grow. 

For example, in November 2020, my husband and I drove eleven hours to have a one-hour conversation.

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

An Open Book: October 2022 Reads

Happy All Souls Day, friends! With this beautiful feast, we also have yet another edition of An Open Book. My reading last month was mainly non-fiction, and some of them were extremely riveting. Let's dive in!

Friday, October 14, 2022

There was an old lady who swallowed a fly: Fall 2022

"There was an old lady who swallowed a fly. I don't know why she swallowed a fly"

I have a theory as to why the old lady swallowed a fly. 

Perhaps: She had been busily cooking a dish of fried cabbage, pork, and noodles in tonkatsu sauce, and it was finished. She was hungry, tired, and hot from working in the kitchen. She plunked the food on the table, and one of her children immediately began asking for food, over and over again, while another child was trying to dive her hands into the skillet to help herself. And in all of this clamor, as she scooped up noodles from the pan, she saw it: a black fleck. Must just be a bit of food that got charred in the cast iron, she thought. But then, she noticed tiny legs and little wings, and a limp, unmoving body. IT'S A FLY! 

And as one child continued to loudly ask for food, and another child tried to dive into the hot noodles, the lady tried to extricate this fly (while keeping her eye on the child who was about to burn herself on the cast iron pan), but the noodles were hot and slippery and she was distracted and all of a sudden, the fly was gone. There was no fly on the table, and no fly sitting on the surface of the noodles that she had worked so hard to make. So, the lady and her family ate, their eyes watchful for that little fly, but they could not find it, leaving her to conclude that someone (maybe herself?) must have eaten it. Perhaps, it got crushed and blended into the sauce. The lady thought back to a recent day, when she walked in on two houseflies who were mating in the doorway to her kitchen. Flies in the house are awful, she concluded as she feasted on her noodles that evening. 

That is why the old lady swallowed a fly. At least, it's my current theory. 

As you can see, it's been quite an adventurous falltime over here ;) 

Baby Girl is two months old, and the past several weeks have been wonderful, peaceful, and full of adventure. I am a big-time believer in "taking it easy" after having a baby, and I have thankfully been able to ease into "normal life" very slowly. The first few weeks of newborn life were very restful, but surprisingly full. 

Friday, October 7, 2022

A Rule of Life: Monthly Confession

I once wrote about the importance of prioritizing our priorities; of making the time and space for the different things that are important in our lives--even when those look different from the priorities and values of other people. In that post, I mentioned that my husband and I practically accomplish this through our Rule of Life (a basic framework for how we want to live). I thought it would be fun to write a small series of posts that dive into a few different elements of our Rule of Life. 

Today, I'd like to share one element of our family's Rule of Life: Monthly Confession.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

An Open Book: September 2022 Reads

It's time for some book talk! I'm linking up with An Open Book to discuss my recent reading material. In September, I mostly read nonfiction, with a couple of fantastic fiction books thrown in the mix. Let's dive in! 

Monday, September 26, 2022

Alexander had a Terrible Day—and it's OK to admit that

Years ago, when someone gave our family a copy of Judith Viorst's classic picture book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, I looked at it askance. I could not recall if I had ever read it myself as a child, because the title itself went against a particular belief that was engrained in me:

A Bad Day? We shouldn't EVER say that.

At some point, I had absorbed the idea that it is wrong to call any day "bad." Every day is a gift from God, so every day is good--and saying that we're having a "bad day" is not expressing an attitude of thankfulness to God for his gifts. I took this line of reasoning to mean that I could admit to occasionally having a "hard" day, but I could NEVER admit to having a terrible day or a bad day. 

Unfortunately, this logic helped me cultivate an unhealthy view of emotions. If something sad, bad, or difficult happened to me, I would push it down, frantically looking for the gift and blessing as soon as possible. I needed to embrace the gifts that God gave me with a thankful spirit! I needed to practice gratitude!

Saturday, September 10, 2022

A Rule of Life: Marian Consecration

I once wrote about the importance of prioritizing our priorities; of making the time and space for the different things that are important in our lives--even when those look different from the priorities and values of other people. In that post, I mentioned that my husband and I practically accomplish this through our Rule of Life (a basic framework for how we want to live). I thought it would be fun to write a small series of posts that dive into a few different elements of our Rule of Life. 

Today, I'd like to share one element of our family's Rule of Life: Marian Consecration

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

An Open Book: August 2022 Reads

August was a pretty exciting month for me, and one of the ways I found some peace and quiet relaxation was through reading. For the most part, August's books fit into two categories: nonfiction about the Amish and classic children's novels. I'm linking up with An Open Book to talk about them. Let's dive in! 

Sunday, September 4, 2022

In God's Time: A Birth Story

"When's the baby due?" 

"The middle-ish of August, but she's not allowed to be born until August 19th or later." 

This was a common exchange between me and other people. Months ago, I signed up for Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Level 2 formation: a three-day course that would take place when I was forty weeks pregnant. No problem, right? I'd just give birth after the course--on August 19th or later. 

Could the baby just come early? 

Maybe if she came a week or two early, she'd be old enough and I'd feel well enough to attend the course. Yet, I was pregnant with a girl, and historically speaking, my boys have come "early" and my other daughter had come "late." So, the odds of her coming at 41 weeks (after my formation course) were in my favor. 

However, as we journeyed through July, something interesting happened: our August schedule prior to my CGS formation began filling up. I realized that I really could not have this baby any earlier than 41 weeks, because I simply had too much going on. 

With all of this in mind, I waddled into the second week of August. 

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Is my work worthwhile?

I step into the yard and breathe deeply. All around me, the world slumbers. It is late; yet, I walk. I meander barefoot in the grass, twirling occasionally under the cloud-covered moon. I pause under the towering pecan tree and gaze north, where silent flashes of light illuminate the darkness.  

A jagged line of lightning splits the sky. I continue to watch the flashes of light as a small contraction roll through my body. I turn and continue to walk as my thoughts begin to churn, seeking clarity in the still night air. 

I ponder the challenges in these recent months and weeks of pregnancy: The anxiety, the fleeting depression, and the nocturnal panic attacks that stealthily slither through the dark bedroom to rip me from sleep. Why, God, why? I pray. Why am I having such a hard time with all of this? 

The night offers no response, save the buzz of air conditioning units and the hum of crickets and cicadas. 

I continue to walk and pray as I move back and forth across the yard. My mind grasps for a reason. Surely, God is trying to tell me something, teach me a particular lesson through all of these difficulties.