Monday, October 19, 2020

As the leaves turn orange

I don't know how we're halfway into October (Christmas is in just over two months. What?!?!?!), but here we are. The days have been flying by, and it's been exhausting, but really fun. This week, the weather finally decided to dip down into the fifties for a couple days (but, since this is Oklahoma, it'll be up in the eighties again by the end of the week) so we decided to embrace this short spurt of fall time. 

Every single year, a botanical garden downtown creates a massive pumpkin wonderland, and every single year, I think about going--but we never make it. This year, due to Covid, the garden didn't host their usual large event, but had a much smaller-scale pumpkin patch set up. So, the kids and I bundled up and spent the morning looking at pumpkins and playing in the Children's Garden. With the scent of hay in the chilly air, and surrounded by gorgeous orange pumpkins, it actually felt like Fall. One of my kids declared that he didn't like it as much as a small fall festival we attended a few days beforehand, since that festival handed out lollipops. But we all still had fun. 

The fall festival that my kids liked more also involved free 
pumpkin painting and plants that the kids could repot to bring home.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

When the going gets tough, pineapple your way through it all

Pineapple juice splashes across the cutting board, threatening to drip onto the countertop. The rhythm of the knife is steady as it tears through the tough skin and exposes the vibrant flesh. My two young sons scamper in circles nearby, excitedly anticipating the first bite of this sweet treat. I continued to slice the fruit, listening as the knife makes a gentle thud each time it hits the cutting board. Another wave of juice flows towards the counter, and I glance at it, annoyed. While the smattering of juice and pineapple scraps isn't the worst disaster in the world, it will still be another mess for me to  clean up. 

However, I willingly stand there, the counter's edge nudging my third-trimester-belly, and continue to slice, chop, and distribute these glowing gems of tropical goodness. Though it would have been far easier to simply open a can of pale, limp pineapple, I remind myself that the joyful experience of bright sunshine and delicious flavors bursting in our mouths is worth the extra time and mess. Underneath all of the thorns and tough skin is an incredible fruit, one that will bring sweetness and excitement into the stressful moments of the week. 

Days later, I find myself huddled behind a computer screen in my bedroom, listening as a therapist advises my prenatal and postpartum group on coping with feelings of anxiety, stress, and depression. As she compassionately walks with us through our struggles, she discusses the importance of not believing that these difficult moments will last forever. She reminds us that they are only a phase and she encourages us to find something positive in the future to look forward to. Over the coming days and weeks, I think about her words. I realize that I need to see beyond the tough, thorny skin of these difficult periods and persevere. Things can--and will--get better. With prayer and trust in God, I just need to pineapple my way through these challenges.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

An Open Book: And So Fall Begins

It's October! That means it's time to chat about the books that I've read in the past month or so. Caught up in the excitement of postpartum life, out-of-state relatives visiting, and finishing all 8 seasons + the two movies of Psych, I didn't read quite as much as I anticipated. ALSO, I spent a lot of September slowly pushing through the first 200 pages of Lorna Doone, before I realized that this season of my life is not extremely conducive to reading a weighty Victorian novel. I did manage to read a couple of non-fiction books, and some very delightful novels.

Make sure to check out Carolyn Astfalk's An Open Book for more recommendations!

Friday, October 2, 2020

Pray: The Story of Patrick Peyton (a review)

"The family that prays together stays together." 

As a child, I heard this adage many times, and it has stuck with me throughout the years. It wasn't until recently that I learned about the man who was known for preaching this motto: Father Patrick Peyton. This man entered America in the 1920s as a poor Irish immigrant, and wound up becoming known across the world for his dedication to family prayer and the Rosary. Pray: The Story of Patrick Peyton, is a beautifully crafted, moving documentary that brings to life the story of Fr. Peyton and his legacy. 

Saturday, September 26, 2020

You Can't Take the Sky (Coffee) From Me

All week, I've been looking forward to this morning. Finally, now that we are beginning to settle into some semblance of a routine with the baby, I planned to haul myself out of bed and hit one of my favorite local coffee shops for some writing time. I called a couple days before to verify that yes, the lobby is open, and yes, it will open at 7 a.m. on Saturday. I couldn't wait. 

Unfortunately, I forgot just how long it takes to leave the house when a newborn is involved. When I had gotten breakfast, dressed, changed the baby's diaper twice, nursed her, and dressed her, forty-five minutes had slipped away. No matter, I told myself as I happily drove us down the road. It's not even 8 a.m. yet, and we'll have plenty of time to write. I could almost taste the light fruity notes of their in-house blend on my tongue. 

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Choosing a Life That's Not Instagrammable

I remember a Saturday two years ago, in the slightly cooling days of September. I was baking quiche in preparation for our newborn's Baptism and reception the next day, I was caring for a toddler who had just been diagnosed with hand, foot, and mouth disease the night before, and our house was a disaster. Oh, and I was contacting all people we had invited to the Baptism, so they could know that our highly contagious toddler would be present. I was a little exhausted and overwhelmed by it all. 

That afternoon, I stood in the kitchen, surrounded by pie crust and baking pans. My husband was attending a Vigil Mass (so that he could watch the Contagious Toddler while I attended Mass the next day), so I was with the kids, alone, making food and trying not to stress about the absolute mess that our house was in. 

As I sit next to my sleeping newborn, and as I look forward to her Baptism tomorrow, I think about how things have changed since that crazy Saturday. I hear the clothes washer running, since my husband just put in a load of dirty diapers. I can, miraculously, see most of our stained living room rug, since my mother-in-law organized most of the kids' toys a few days ago. Rather than rushing around, frantically trying to organize a large gathering after our baby's Baptism tomorrow, I've been watching episodes of Psych while nursing and snuggling the newborn. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

An Open Book: August 2020 Reads

How is it September already? Another month means that it's time to join Carolyn Astfalk's Open Book link-up. In August, a main focus of mine was "classic Children's novels that somehow I missed when I was a kid," but I also read a couple of adult-level books, too. Let's dive in! 

Monday, August 31, 2020

In Which I Don't Know How to Labor (a homebirth story)

 When I was just shy of 40 weeks pregnant, a relative was asking me if we had childcare arrangements for my kids during labor, and offering to drive in from another state to help out. I mentioned that we had several options in place, as several local friends had offered assistance. "Plus," I added, "my elderly neighbor is still doing her outdoor concert series in another neighbor's driveway, so if baby happens to come on a Tuesday evening, our neighbors could always collectively watch my kids at the concert." 

Little did I know how prophetic this half-joking comment would be. 

Friday, August 21, 2020

The Gift of Not Being in Control

Learning to relinquish control would be a good way to summarize the past few months. From the unpredictability of the health climate to mental health trials, there have been many instances where I have been reminded that I am not in control, and I've needed to find the peace and freedom in that. 

Adding the reality of third trimester pregnancy ups and downs to all this further confirms the ongoing theme in my life right now. At the beginning of the third trimester, my midwife discovered that my blood platelet levels were low. I was still in the "safe zone," but she wanted to me to proactively address this before it became a big issue. So, in a frantic attempt to increase my platelets, I began supplementing, eating a ridiculous amount of spinach and lentils, and supplementing some more. At 36 weeks, she drew more labs, and I was hopeful that all of my hard work had paid off...only to find that my platelet count had dropped even lower. I was still in the "safe zone" for homebirth, but only barely. 

I felt devastated. It seemed as if all of my hard work had come to nothing. I could still birth at home--if my platelets didn't go down anymore--but the uncertainty of it all was very difficult. While hospitals are great, and I had a wonderful hospital birth with my first child, I really didn't want to deal with a hospital during the whole mess of Covid-19. As I felt the stress build from this news, I tapped into what I had been learning in therapy, I took a deep breath, and I looked to God. And I reminded myself: "Let go of control." I would still be proactive and take my many supplements, but I wouldn't stress about trying to control a situation that, frankly, was out of my hands. I would do my work, submit to God, and trust that He would take care of us one way or the other. 

Thursday, August 13, 2020

The Joy found in Simple Work

I tend to think that the final weeks of pregnancy may be a strange time to unleash my homesteading/homemaking/pioneer aspirations, but that's just life. 

Several months ago, I was reading a book about urban homesteading-type activities, and I came across a section that discussed the value in using freshly milled flour. The book talked about the way that flour loses natural nutrients once it's milled. If there was one step the reader wanted to take in embracing more of a homesteading-type lifestyle, the author encouraged milling wheat berries at home to use. I was intrigued to learn more--after all, freshly milling flour at home sounded much more doable than cultivating an extensive garden or owning my own chickens. I began researching the topic, but I wasn't sure if I was ready to take such a big step. 

Months slipped by, but the idea of buying my own mill wouldn't leave my mind. But then, I discovered I was pregnant, and amid the nausea and fatigue, this fell off my radar completely. However, a few months ago, I unexpectedly received a monetary gift and as I wondered what I should get with it, I thought of flour mills again. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

An Open Book: July 2020 Reads

July flew by, so here we are with another round of Carolyn Astfalk's An Open Book! I did not read quite as many books as I though I would, mainly because I got hooked on the show Psych (SO FUN!). But, I still did pick up some fascinating fiction and non-fiction books in spite of my new television obsession! Let's dive in.