Wednesday, June 5, 2024

An Open Book: May 2024 Reads

It's the beginning of the month, so I'm linking up with An Open BookAn Open Book to discuss the books that accompanied me in May. It was an extremely fun month for reading, with memoirs, historical non-fiction, historical fiction, and novels forming my reading stack. Let's dive in! 


Monday, May 6, 2024

Nalbinding a gnome hat

 Last month at a Medieval Fair, I spotted a spinning wheel. My fiber-loving heart jumped, and I ducked inside the tent, where a few women sat around doing different fiber crafts. My children stopped suddenly at the entrance of the tent, however; they were engrossed in the work that a different woman was doing. Glancing out of the corner of my eye, it looked like she was knitting. That's nice, but not nearly as exciting, I thought. But then, I did a double-take. Instead of working with a couple knitting needles, she was using a thick, plastic-looking needle, a few inches in length, to loop and weave yarn around her thumb and through a dense fabric that was forming. 

"Is that a type of knitting?" I asked, leaning closer. 

"No," she responded. "It's nalbinding." 

As this woman proceeded to tell me about this endangered, ancient handicraft, I was gripped with a strong desire to learn it for myself. When she mentioned that, due to the fabric's construction, you can't "drop stitches" that unravel like in knitting or crocheting, I knew I needed to learn this. It sounded perfect! When she added that, since the gauge is determined by your thumb, making specific patterns difficult, I became even more excited. No complicated patterns to keep track of as I keep my toddler from destroying the house? When can I start?

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

An Open Book: April 2024 Reads

Another month has rolled around, so I'm linking up with An Open Book to chat about what I read in April!  As usual, it wound up being a great mix of fiction, nonfiction, and a couple children's books. Let's dive in! 


Monday, April 22, 2024

An Education in Clover

As my eyes scanned the neighborhood street, I observed the irony. The yards that some people fastidiously poured time, money, and chemicals into were barren. These lawns looked dead, lifeless, and empty. However, the other yards—those lawns belonging to people who didn’t pour time, money, and chemicals into them—looked very different. Overgrown with flower-touched weeds and bursts of clover, these yards were full of life. Bees hummed as they hovered above the white clover puffs and butterflies flitted back and forth.

In some yards, there was vibrant life—and in others, desolation and death. Perhaps this is too dramatic (a yard is just a yard, isn’t it?); yet, I wonder if we can learn something from a clover-filled yard. 

I look into my own backyard as I sit her in the dining room, and I see an ocean of clover. Each year, the clover has been spreading more and more across that space. This abundance of clover has brought an incredible amount of joy to our family. Over the past several days, my children have spent hours upon hours playing and rolling in the clover. The clover is deep and thick, in some areas rising well above my ankles. It is soft and silky and delightful. Joyous smiles light up the faces of my children as they play, and I join them in sharing this bliss. The clover in a yard is a gift to us--and it also is a gift to others. 

Life pours into our backyard, seeking out this clover.

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

An Open Book: March 2024 Reads

Christ is risen! 

I hope that you all are having a beautiful Easter season so far. I personally am enjoying the chance to bask in the glory of Easter after the intensity of Holy Week :) With the start of another month, it's time to link up with An Open Book! In March, I did not get much done in the way of writing, but I read a lot. It was a really fantastic lineup of books, so let's dive in! 

Thursday, March 14, 2024

My Electrifying Existence

The house was hushed and the lights were dim as I walked away from the bedroom where three of my children slept. Holding the toddler in my arms, I grabbed my laptop--might as well watch a show while putting her to sleep, I figured. I grabbed the charging cable too, since my laptop would not work unless it was plugged in. 

Still holding my child, I started to plug the laptop's charging cord into the outlet. A slight shock briefly jarred me, and stupidly, I thought I had put it in wrong. Grasping the cord, I carefully tried putting it in the outlet again. 

RUMBLE! RUMBLE!

A surge of electricity pulsed into my hand. I dropped the cord and--still holding tightly to my sleepy toddler--leaped away. "DEAR GOD, PLEASE HELP ME!" I yelled as the waves of electricity pushed up my arm. They rolled through my chest, into my other arm, and briefly down towards my waist. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

February 2023 Reads

Happy March, everyone! Since it's the beginning of the month, it's time to look back on the past few weeks to talk the books that crossed my path. In February, I read a mix of fiction and nonfiction, both adult and children's books. I was able to read quite a bit, because I was unexpectedly unable to use my laptop for an entire week--and since I don't have a smartphone, I was thus without any kind of online reading or social media. It was the perfect opportunity to pick up books! Incidentally, when I finally got my laptop in working order a week later, I discovered that I really did not miss anything. Anyways, let's talk books! 

[edited to add: make sure you head over to An Open Book for more reading recaps!]



Tuesday, February 20, 2024

How Catholic parishes can support homeschooling families

My family and I are moving to the area soon, and we're homeschoolers. What is a good church that offers opportunities for homeschooling families?

A variation of this question regularly pops up within social media groups, especially as people look ahead to the coming school year. Over time, I've noticed that in the Catholic community, the same handful of parishes tend to be recommended over and over. Homeschooling families flock to these parish communities. They know they will be supported in their educational journey, and they are excited about the existing opportunities they can enjoy. 

It's wonderful when parishes encourage homeschooling families, and I'm grateful for the encouragement that homeschoolers receive from the diocese as well. However, I wonder if more parishes could join in this support and outreach. Catholic parishes do a fantastic job supporting and celebrating Catholic education when it comes to the school system. Yet, there are families in the pews who seek a Catholic education through homeschooling. 

Homeschooling families are part of the parish community, even if we don't utilize the Catholic school system. We don't need a homeschooling equivalent of Catholic Schools Week, but we would love encouragement and support, too. I've encountered Catholic homeschooling communities across America, and between my experiences and those of my friends and acquaintances, I've observed different ways that Catholic parishes can reach out to homeschooling families. Here are a few ideas to get us started as we support these families in their mission and work: 

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Journey into Lent with Barbie (and Ken)

In the aftermath of a glorious battle that began with hobby horses and tennis rackets and ended in a fabulous dance sequence, an assortment of Barbies, Kens, and Mattel employees ponder the events of Greta Gerwig’s delightful film, Barbie. One of the Kens speaks to the group, his voice deep and resolute:

"We were only fighting because we didn't know who we were."

Throughout a series of wild adventures, the film probes the topic of identity. We follow Stereotypical Barbie on an ordinary day as she soars through her predictable, perfect life. She has always seen her core identity in being the perfect Barbie: arched feet, flawless skin, and a fun "girls' night" every night. However, when she discovers cellulite, experiences mishaps in her Dream House, and her heels touch the ground, everything falls apart. Who is she? And who is Ken, the blond guy whose job is “beach” and whose core identity relies on being Barbie’s boyfriend-but she's not that interested in him? 

Are the Kens supposed to find their identity and purpose in being subordinate accessories to the Barbies? Are the Barbies supposed to find their identity and purpose in being “long term, low commitment casual girlfriends” to the Kens?
Their confusion bursts into conflict: the Barbies against the Kens, the Kens against the Barbies, and the Kens against each other. There is no true peace. 

In order for harmony to exist, in order for them to experience fulfillment, in order for them to truly be able to love themselves and each other, the Barbies and Kens need to discover who they really are. Who they were made to be. 

We each need to do this too, don’t we? We need to learn who we are. Otherwise, our relationships--and our own lives--will suffer. 

The season of Lent offers us the perfect opportunity to do this. 

Source. 

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

An Open Book: January 2024 Reads

Another month has arrived, so it's time to link up with An Open Book! I'm very excited to share the books that took me through the first month of 2024. Fiction and nonfiction titles hit my shelf, and courtesy of a teething toddler, I even managed to get through a 700+ page biography! Let's dive in. 



Monday, January 22, 2024

"Unanswered" prayers

It was October, and I wanted to watch Overthe Garden Wall. There was just a problem: every single library copy was checked out or reserved for other people.

For those of you who haven’t seen it, Over the Garden Wall is a miniseries that follows a set of brothers who are lost in a dark wood. This animated show originally aired on Cartoon Network and may not seem too profound at first glance. It's dark and very, very weird. However, the story, characters, and themes are incredibly deep and ripe for discussion and reflection. The show is also perfect for fall time and Halloween, which is why I wanted to watch it—and why every copy was unavailable. (I know online renting is an option, but I didn’t want to pay money just to watch a two-hour show)

Then, at the very end of October, on the cusp of our departure for a road trip, I received word from the library: my copy had arrived. So, for the final two evenings of October, my husband and I tucked our sugared-up kids in bed and I introduced him to this weird, delightful, profound show. As we discussed the different episodes and characters, I was filled with gratitude. God cares about my desire to watch Over the Garden Wall, I thought. Furthermore, because this DVD came in just before a huge road trip, we took it with us and introduced relatives to the beauty of Over the Garden Wall. My husband and I got to watch this show twice in a week, and another time over Christmas (since it's a "Halloween show," I could keep renewing the DVD as long as I wanted...no one else wanted it anymore haha!). It was amazing. 

Soon after this, the temperatures began to dip—and I thought about cardigans. As much as I love cozying up in a hooded sweatshirt on chilly days, there’s something particularly awesome about wrapping myself in an oversized cardigan while I read, write, or take my kids to the park. All of the cardigans I had owned in the past had worn out or gotten donated in a move. The thought briefly slipped through my mind one day: It would be nice to have a cozy knitted cardigan again.