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. 

Friday, August 5, 2022

Musings from a Parched Land

The red dirt was hard, compact, baked. Endless days stretched by as a heat wave crawled over the land. Wildfires sparked, garden plants shriveled, and the sparse patches of grass in our yard became brown and brittle. Large cracks and crevices split open our yard as the earth cried out for water, for moisture, for reprieve. 

And I thought of the psalmist's cry; words that I have prayed countless times as I've held my taped-together breviary: 

"O God, you are my God, for you I long; 

for you my soul is thirsting

My body pines for you 

like a dry, weary land without water..."

A few years ago, as I joined in the procession of people walking to receive the Eucharist at Mass, these words sprung up in my heart. I've continued to pray them often while in the line for Communion. 

My body pines for you/like a dry, weary land without water.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

An Open Book: July 2022 Reads

I don't know about y'all, but July flew by over here! With the heat wave that slammed multiple states with seemingly neverending days of triple digit temperatures, I was quite happy to curl up inside with some good books! I mostly dove into nonfiction for the month of July, but a couple of classic children's novels found their way into the mix as well :) I'm linking up with An Open Book, so let's dive in! 

Monday, July 18, 2022

A Learning Life: a homeschool update

As we ate whatever random scraps of food/leftovers comprised our lunch that day, two of my children started talking about pelvises and asking me questions. I ran to the shelf, grabbed one of our human body books, and brought it to the table. Together, as we nourished our bodies with food, we looked at the diagrams of the pelvis and discussed the differences between the pelvis on men and women. A week later, as my midwife gently rubbed my belly, feeling the position of our little one, my six-year-old seized the opportunity: "You know, the pelvis on a lady helps to hold up the uterus," he began. 

Just another ordinary day in our homeschooling life ;) 

I haven't done a "homeschooling update" since October 2021, so I guess it's about time to do another one! I started out the 2021-2022 school year with the mentality that we would take a slow approach (which soon got even slower) and it's now become a lot more of a "slow unschooling approach." It's been really, really good for us at this point in life.

A couple weeks ago, my six-year-old asked if he is in first grade (it seems that age and/or grade designations can be very important to kids). "Umm...I guess?" I responded, before I gave some lengthy ramble about grade levels being rather pointless when one is homeschooled (at least in the early years). Someone else recently mentioned homeschooling in the summer, asking if we do that, and my response to this was the same. Umm...I guess?

Yes, I guess we homeschool in the summer-because we live a life of learning.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Dining out (with kids)

I paced outside the restaurant in the warm summertime air, gently coaxing my newborn baby to sleep. Just eight or so weeks after the birth of my first child, I was eager to get out and enjoy some sushi with my husband while basking in the beauty of a restaurant. With my now-sleeping baby on my chest, we walked inside and were soon seated at a booth. Surrounded by the sparkling lights of the restaurant, we ordered. Soon, our waiter brought out an appetizer, and as our eyes widened at the sight of the grilled yellowtail collar...the baby woke up. As we enjoyed our delicious food, I tried to quiet the baby. I stood, nestling him close to my chest in the carrier, and gently bounced and rocked. 

The table next to ours was packed with adults--some of whom appeared to be related--who were talking, laughing, and enjoying themselves. I caught the eye of one woman at this table and apologized for my noisy newborn. She looked me straight in the eye and told me not to worry that my baby was making noise (like any normal baby would). "He's family," she declared. 

He's family--and in the eyes and reassurances of this woman, that was enough to prove that our baby had a place at the restaurant table. 

This brief encounter has stuck with me all these years later. This woman's openness to--and acceptance of--our young child in a public space was comforting to a new parent, and it fills me with hope as we seek to create a culture in which all human life is respected. 

Even if parents have a great deal of support and self-confidence, they can still feel self-conscious about taking their young children to public places that aren't specifically geared towards kids. This can cause some people to dramatically shift their lives to the extent that they stay away from many establishments: restaurants, churches, and museums, to name a few. They'll state that "when he's older, we can go out to eat again" or something of that variation. 

As a young parent of a cluster of small children (a couple of them being rowdy boys), I can understand a little bit of that sentiment. I look at families we know who have only older children and smile as I see the way they are able to enjoy peaceful outings or even simply play games together in the time they usually are "supposed" to take. However, I do think it can be problematic when we live under the assumption that all life needs to be "put on hold" when there's a baby in the house. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

An Open Book: June 2022 Reads

Am I the only one in shock that it's already July? 

Yet, here we are. I'm kicking off the month by joining An Open Book to chat about my recent reads! A lot of activity filled my calendar for the month of June (plus the whole business of unexpectedly going without a/c for over two weeks), so I didn't read as much as I had planned. But, I still read some pretty great stuff. Let's dive in!