Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Four years

It's a tidy chunk of time. 

Four years of high school. Four years of college. We look at these four-year spans and neatly wrap them up, setting them aside to fondly look back on in scrapbooks and at reunions. When we began high school, time seemed to drag on, and GPAs and who-asked-who to the dance took on a large amount of importance. When we walked across the stage at graduation, we knew that we had changed, but we may have felt rather similar to the chubby-faced fourteen-year-olds who had walked into the school just a few years earlier. We went off to college, and suddenly, our worldview expanded. Suddenly, no one cared about what had happened in high school, or what our grades had been, or if we had belonged to the National Honor Society. And these four years flew by, until we found ourselves with a degree in hand and a daunting world of responsibilities. 

Last week, my husband and I celebrated four years of marriage. As I look back on this time, I realize that it is not easily summarized and packaged like four years of high school, or even four years of college. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Why I Run

I never understood people who run. Why put yourself through so much unnecessary torture? Granted, I did not have experience running, aside from being instructed to run a mile once a year in middle school as part of the school's physical education program. But running (well, mostly walking) a mile in my knee-length plaid skirt and thick blouse once a year didn't give me much perspective about how to run or how to find the joy in running. 

Joy in running? Is there such a thing? 

As I grew older, I started to hear about this strange cultural phenomenon called the 5k run. To support different causes, people would dedicate their Saturday mornings to run 3.1 miles in a group. As if that's not weird enough-after all, Saturday mornings are for Mass and coffee and good books and garage sales-it gets even stranger. They would pay to do this! Being tortured into running as part of a P.E. class is one thing, but paying to undergo that torture is a whole other level of insanity. 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

On the Bookshelf: A Summertime Round-Up

Even though it'll still feel like summertime here in Oklahoma for many weeks to come, I know that across the country, many people are jumping back into "back to school" events and are preparing for falltime. So, I figured I'd do a big ol' literature post to let y'all know what I've been reading this summer! As usual, there's a mix of fiction and non-fiction covering a variety of topics.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Why Style Matters to Stay-at-Home Moms, Part 2: How to Reinvigorate Your Wardrobe

(Read Part 1 here)

I didn't want to feel frazzled, frumpy, or overwhelmed any longer. I didn't like smelling and feeling like breastmilk in the early postpartum days. I wanted to regain a sense of fun and outward beauty. 

I realized that I couldn't control all of the various trials that come with newborn life-but I could control how I clothed myself. And clothes affect how we feel, how we act, and how others perceive us. So, I decided to intentionally examine my wardrobe. While there are some very thorough regimes out there to give your wardrobe a makeover, I didn't have the time or the energy to spend several hours a week making mood boards and meticulously analyzing each item in my closet. After all, my main focus was on keeping myself and my newborn baby alive and well! Intentionally working with our wardrobes doesn't have to be complicated, and we shouldn't be intimidated by it. Here's the simple way I went about this process in those early months of newborn life:  

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Need a Toddler Toy? Buy a Toilet Plunger.

Several weeks ago, my one-year-old discovered the toilet plunger in the bathroom. I could not figure out why he was attracted to it, but most of the times that I would find my son sneaking into the bathroom, he would be squeezing his body into that small space between the toilet and the counter just so that he could touch the toilet plunger. 

Instead of continuing to keep him away from the household toilet plunger (a long and exhausting task which got old really quickly), a very simple and obvious solution hit me: Just buy the kid his own toilet plunger.

Incidentally, this is the first "toy" that I've ever purchased for my son, and I have no regrets whatsoever. I've found, in these past few weeks, that toilet plungers really are one of the best gift items out there for toddlers. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Why Style Matters to Stay-At-Home Moms

What does a stay-at-home mom look like?

Perhaps she's wearing yoga pants and a tank top with her hair thrown up in a messy bun. Or, maybe she's wearing a t-shirt and jeans with her hair pulled back in a ponytail. Or maybe she's wearing something else-but what does it matter? Stay-at-home moms don't have to follow an office dress code for a 9-5 job. Plus, if they have small children, they know that spit-up or food will eventually get on their clothes anyway. So, why shouldn't these ladies just throw on whatever they see first in the closet as they hastily prepare for the day? 

We shouldn't do this because our clothes affect us. What we wear influences how we carry ourselves, how we look at ourselves, and how we feel. I remember how my husband came home from work one day, a few weeks after I gave birth to my son, and I burst into tears. "I feel like milk!" I cried. As a newly breastfeeding mom, my supply had not regulated, and as I spent copious amounts of time on the couch, I mostly wore leggings or shorts with nursing tanks. I smelled like milk, I felt exhausted, and I looked frazzled. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Miracles Still Happen: A Review of "Once I Was Blind, But Now I See"

With honesty and openness, Once I Was Blind, But Now I See, by Charles Piccirilli, with Kimberly Cook, is a beautiful reflection on the power of God at work in the lives or seemingly ordinary individuals. Charles Piccirilli was a typical sort of child from a large, Italian Catholic family. However, some experiences in childhood ultimately led him to turn away from God and dabble in various religions and the occult. Over time, Charles grew to see God and His work, and throughout the pages of this book, he delves into some of the miraculous occurrences that have taken place in this journey.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Oatmeal Walnut Muffins for your late-night cravings

I have a confession to make: I really did try to meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary while praying with my husband the other night, but I kept thinking about FOOD.

I don't know why, but I was really hungry, and needed a bedtime snack. I was in the mood for something with oats, but I didn't want to eat a bowl of oatmeal. I thought about making granola bars, but realized that I did not have all the ingredients to make my favorite recipe and I would wind up eating half the pan that night, so I nixed that idea. I didn't want to make baked oatmeal, since that would use up most of our eggs and milk (we've been without a car for a week, so I'm trying not to use up too many groceries), but then it hit me: Muffins. Warm, crumbly, chewy muffins would be perfect for my late-night oatmeal craving. Plus, there'd be leftovers to eat the next day!

I began searching the internet for oatmeal muffin recipes, but I could not find a single one that worked with the ingredients that I had on hand. So, I glanced at some common themes I was finding among recipes, added a few of my own twists, and soon was biting into a warm, chewy oatmeal muffin. I approximate when it comes to measurements, so feel free to tweak this recipe to make it work for you! 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Balancing Act of Frugal Minimalism

I grew up reading the original, historical American Girls books, the Little House on the Prairie books, and Little Women, and as I learned about these different heroines, I fell in love with the ways that they made money stretch, reused household items, and lived simply. In fact, when I was about 9 years old, I asked my mom to cut my blond hair short, and declared that I wanted to be called "Kit," after Kit Kittredge, one of my favorite American Girls! I've always hesitated before throwing anything away, because I want to make sure to reuse whatever household items I possibly can. In fact, several months ago, I made a mei tai babycarrier from old jeans, bedsheets, and fabric scraps-the only item I had to purchase to make this was batting to pad the shoulder straps!

I'm not the biggest cheapskate around, but I am pretty frugal. At the same time, I also strive to grow as a minimalist. I've found that I love to have a tidy home with empty spaces. Since I'm a stay-at-home-mom, I spend a lot of time at home, and if there's mountains of clutter or stuff everywhere, I become stressed out. We recently moved into a house that's about 400 square feet larger than our apartment (so much space! It feels like a palace), and I'm very alert as to what is coming into our home, since I do not want to accumulate loads of belongings. I love simplicity and tidiness.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

How do we love our neighbors? (at Ignitum Today)

Happy Fourth of July, everyone! I just wanted to pop in and wish you all a blessed, safe, and peaceful holiday. What a great time to celebrate as a country with our family, our friends-and our neighbors. On the topic of neighbors, I'm at Ignitum Today talking about ways that we can grow in fellowship and community with the individuals in our neighborhoods: How do we love our neighbors? 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Affirmations to give new moms (that aren't about weight)

I remember that I was walking through Walmart with my tiny newborn son, just weeks after giving birth. As I gazed at fabric and yarn, two elderly women walked by. Seeing the baby, they stopped and began ooing and aaing, asking how old he was. Upon hearing that I gave birth only weeks before, they looked at me with shocked expressions. "But you're flat as a pancake!" one of them said.

While it was very sweet of this woman to try to affirm me, her words were unsettling. Why? Because she made my weight a focus of our short conversation. She could have talked about other subjects-the joy that comes with children or asking me how I was managing during newborn life, for example-but she commented on a topic which, I believe, our culture is entirely too obsessed with. 

I've heard women bemoan to me that our society is preoccupied with the physical appearance of women, and we've all been bombarded by messages ranging from "Be as skinny as you can" to "Be proud of your body, no matter your size is." We focus so much on the external presence or lack of flab on a woman's body that we forget to talk about what really matters: a woman's life, her soul, her dignity, her joys, her dreams.

But if we don't comment on a new mom's weight, then what are we supposed to talk with her and other new moms about???