Wednesday, January 22, 2020

There's a Human in my Belly!

I don't entirely understand when bloggers tease out a "big announcement" for an entire huge post before announcing a pregnancy, because it's usually very obvious that they are going to announce a pregnancy, so I figured I'd stick it in the title for y'all to see ;)

This is five weeks pregnant, so we all have a nice baseline
to reference when I take more photos and we see how I've
already tripled in size in the matter of one month. 
There are actual reflective-ish thoughts swirling in my mind that I'd love to write out right now, but since I'm sipping ice water, making sure the toddler stays out of mischief, and about to dive into a fresh box of crackers to help keep the nausea under control (I went through an entire box of Triscuits in less than 24 hours with only a tiny bit of assistance from my kids, and I am NOT ASHAMED), I'll keep things simple for now.

Monday, January 13, 2020

I don't understand people who decline Biscoff cookies (and other notes from Christmas travels)

My friends, it has been a whirlwind. Last week was the first full week that we've spent at home in about a month. I realize that lots of people travel and pack their schedules with activities regularly, but we usually take things slower around here. So, last week was a good one for catching up on sleep, finishing a re-watch of Anne of Green Gables (Megan Follows and Jonathan Crombie are so cute in their roles!), and visiting neighbors, local friends, and the library. It's good to be back, but our little adventures were fun, too-we took a big ol' trip to the Pacific Northwest!

I have fond memories of the part of my childhood spent in Oregon, so I was ecstatic that I'd finally get to visit it again-for the first time in twelve years! My husband's family (and much of his extended family) also lives in that part of the country, so we decided to take a couple weeks around Christmas to spend some quality time with relatives.

The last time we had flown as a family was three years ago, when we had just one tiny baby. I was quite a bit nervous about flying with a preschooler and a 15 month old, but surprisingly it went way better than I had anticipated! (thank you, God!) Our firstborn was happily kept occupied breeding Pokémon with my husband while I tried to entertain the baby (who at times would not let himself be entertained). Everyone was really nice, though, and I discovered that it's especially awesome to fly with a baby because the flight stewardess just may load you down with extra granola bars!

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

December 2019 Books

Happy New Year! A lot of life has happened lately, and I personally am awed at all of the bloggers who are publishing "end of year update" posts because this time of year just seems to full to me! Rest assured, some updates will come that will probably include rambles about how glorious it was to see the Pacific Ocean for the first time in 12 years ;) 

In the meantime, let's do a quick reading update! In December, I wound up reading more than I had anticipated. I picked up mostly nonfiction, but a couple of novels wound their way into the mix as well: from a thriller to a World War II memoir, it was a nice variety that kept me enthralled!  

Friday, December 20, 2019

On Family Traditions

Perhaps your family eats Chinese food on Thanksgiving. Or, maybe you always open one gift on Christmas Eve before slipping off to bed. You might participate in a "turkey trot" together each Thanksgiving, or alternatively you curl up on the couch to watch endless Christmas movies while you sink into that post-Turkey relaxation. Traditions vary from household to household, but many families have them. These family traditions can be reassuring and comforting. Knowing that a certain practice will happen on an upcoming holiday can fill us with gleeful anticipation.

But, what if our family traditions cause more stress than jubilation? What if they create more tension than harmony? What if they force us to fit a mold that we have outgrown?

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

An Open Book: November 2019 Reads

Happy New Liturgical Year! I hope that you are all having a peaceful start to Advent. Before we get bogged down with the chaos of travels and festivities, I thought I'd take a moment to share what I've been reading lately. From a medical thriller to Austen-inspired nonfiction to a Death Row memoir, there's a wide range of books that took me through the fall days. Make sure to head over to Carolyn Astfalk's An Open Book for more reviews!

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

The Beauty of a Simple Advent

For as long as I can remember, the secular culture has been swept up in a "Christmas craze" for weeks leading up to the Birth of Our Lord.  Over the past few years, I've also noticed that it is easy for Catholics-all Christians who observe Advent, really-to get overwhelmed with an "Advent craze." Articles abound with list upon list of activities we can complete to give ourselves and our children a "meaningful" Advent. I suppose the "do unique activities everyday" approach may work for some people, but-despite my love for liturgical year activities-I do not feel inclined to share in this busyness.

As I learn about the need that young children have for silence and space to contemplate God (the importance of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Atrium, for example), I find myself pondering how I need silence and space to contemplate God. I've been finding that there is a very real pressure to think that "good Catholics" need to do x, y, and z during Advent; to think that "good Catholics" need to have a lengthy list of observances that they and their children are adhering to for the four weeks leading up to Christmas.

Monday, November 25, 2019

A Pecan Tree of Hope

My neighbor called me over to the fence, her hand open and outstretched. There are pecans, she informed me. I've got a whole pocketful of them. She squeezed and the pecan shell crunched, cracked. She peeled off the mottled tan pieces and revealed the prize: a large, wrinkly pecan.

We moved into our home a few years back, and our neighbor had excitedly told us about the pecans that would fall from our tree. How some would fall in our yard, some would fall in hers. How the outer shells would fall away like flower petals. As the days grew cool that year, I eagerly looked at our tree. I noticed the broken brown shells that littered the ground, and the whole shells-pecans intact. Those aren't good, my neighbor would tell me. When they're ready, they'll come apart easily.

We didn't find any good pecans that year....or the next. Earlier this year, I glanced at our tree with my husband. We mused on how we haven't received any pecans from it. About how many leaves the tree dumps down onto the grass. About the long branches that fall off and pile up-a pile that steadily grows before we can completely remove it. I thought about Jesus cursing the fig tree that didn't bear fruit (Mk 11:12-14), and pondered how the tree provides excellent shade in the summer-but it doesn't bear pecans. Maybe we should just get rid of it. 

Friday, November 15, 2019

Do you want to change the world? Visit the library.

Long brown hair drapes down, a curtain that frames the man's large sunglasses. Joy sweeps over his body. It moves him to dance, and he begins to rap. His items are on the shelf behind the desk, waiting for him-and this is a cause for celebration.

I walk past this elated man with my children and a load of books in tow. I smile, and my heart swells with gratitude for this place, this building where a man raps gleefully as a librarian fetches his items. Where toddlers play and elderly people sit at desks with word puzzles. Where homeless people lounge, finding solace from the weather and the noise of the city. I think about the many blissful hours my children and I spend here at the library, and I wonder, Why don't more people come here? Do they realize what they are missing? 

The library is a refuge, a place of joy, a school of empathy, a center of education, and a gathering place for countless individuals. If we want to build bridges in our local community, if we want to influence the culture-and even change the world-we should seriously consider visiting the public library.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Can Hobbies & Parenting Coexist?

The comforter was pulled up to my neck and I breathed deeply, sinking further into the mattress. With the rolling wave of each contraction, my body was preparing to push out a squirming baby boy. As I lay there, my eyes closed, I heard my toddler scamper into the bedroom.

Is mommy at the coffee shop? he asked my husband, not noticing my figure huddled under the blankets.

Even at just two years of age, my son had noticed my habit of regularly taking time to pursue my hobbies. My simple action, of waking up early a few mornings a week to slip into the frosty air and drive down the street to the local coffee shop, was observed by this small human being. Our actions speak volumes to our children, and over time, impart wisdom that we may never be able to convey through our words.

Countless people have been rather surprised when they hear that my husband plays video games. Not only that, but he even is involved (in varying levels of attendance) in the competitive gaming scene. Some people even appear to be in awe that I "let" my husband play video games.

Many women have expressed to me that I like to read books like you, but I haven't done that since becoming a mom. They're tired and worn out from caring for their kids and household duties, so doing any reading "for fun" is placed on a backburner-and rarely happens.

I realize that some people are in situations which do not allow them to get out by themselves. Military families, single parents, and families where one or both parents work multiple jobs may experience a lack of "free time" or be unable to leave the kids with someone (especially if no relatives live in the area). There are also, unfortunately, situations where one spouse is not supportive of the other and makes it difficult-or even impossible-for that person to ever get a break. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

An Open Book: Falltime 2019 Books

Another month has begun, and with comes another installment of book reviews! Head over to Carolyn Astfalk's An Open Book for more great literary discussions. Over the past month, I read an assortment of books: some historical fiction, some non-fiction, and a couple of futuristic YA novels. Let's dive in!

Monday, November 4, 2019

I never imagined that a Kardashian and I would have anything in common (and other notes from Falltime)

It seems like just yesterday that October came sailing in with glorious falltime weather (in the 70s and 80s) that found me dancing around the zoo, singing THIS IS SUCH A GORGEOUS DAY! Suddenly, here I am, wondering where exactly this month has gone, and where falltime has gone. It's been a glorious past few months, and it hasn't exactly flown by-it's felt full and long in a good way. 
WARNING: long-winded, old-fashioned update post ahead. And my camera broke, so there are no pictures, just a lot of wordy rambles. 
There have been gatherings and conversations with dear friends, planning sessions for Christmas travels, and park days galore. One evening, we walked by a house on a street nearby that has what I think looks like The Great Deku Tree from The Legend of Zelda (it's a humongous and perfectly-proportioned tree) and met the man who lives there. He immediately invited us to come up to the tree and look at all the numerous fairy houses that are around the trunk.