Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Dandelions in December: Life lately

December kicked off with really warm weather over here. As in, people other than me were wearing flip flops and t-shirts outside ;) We've had cold days too, and I've been learning that sometimes it's necessary to wear shoes and socks (one day I walked half a mile in flip flops without realizing it was 40 degrees outside, though I did notice that my feet were freezing. Needless to say, I'm a wearing shoes outside a lot more than I used to!). And in all of the ups and downs of weather, we've had a few lovely dandelions gracing our lawn. 

I know that some people hate dandelions-apparently they are a weed?-but I love them. They are, without a doubt, my top favorite "flower." Seeing these little bursts of yellow in the middle of warm or cold December days was pretty great. It was a seemingly little and insignificant thing, but it made me really happy. 

There are so many things that surround us which bring joy to our days, even if they seem small or unimportant. Lately, I've been trying to do better about counting my blessings and really rejoicing in the awesome things I encounter in life. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

On the Bookshelf: Learning about minimalism and (finally!) reading fiction

Hi, friends! I hope you all are having a stellar Advent so far. I'm here with another round-up of books I've been reading lately, but there are a few things you need to know. First, remember how I said I wanted to read more fiction? WELL, I did...kind of? I read a couple interesting fiction books, but I always seem to pick up non-fiction books as well and find myself compelled to read them (I'm currently reading two hefty non-fiction books at the moment). There also are not many books on today's list, because, well, The Punisher happened. Netflix decided to release the series of The Punisher, and naturally I had to watch the whole thing because Jon Bernthal is a great actor and the show has a riveting story and really interesting characters. So, all of my reading time went into watching hours of Frank Castle slaughtering his enemies. Since I'm not studiously watching a show at the moment, I'm hoping to finish my current books and move onto some more fiction reads, but we'll see when that happens! As for now, let's talk about what I've read, shall we? 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Magic of Christmas

When I was pregnant with my son, occasionally other people would mention what Christmas is like as parents. "It's so magical when you have kids!" they'd say, evoking images of children with beaming smiles opening presents and looking at Christmas lights.

I've noticed that many parents want to create a magical, special Christmas time for their children. Irregardless of whether or not they "do Santa" (that is a whole other topic!), many people yearn to make a heartwarming place where cherished  memories will be created. There is nothing wrong with desiring to create a happy mood in your home as you cozy up for hygge-style festivities. As we swirl candy canes in warm mugs of cocoa together, we can rejoice in the love that we share with our family and friends. 

However, there are some traps that we can all fall into. 

Monday, December 4, 2017

The Sights & Sounds of Advent

Happy New Year! The season of Advent began on with the Sunday liturgy, and thus began a new liturgical year. I spent Saturday afternoon cleaning the house and pulling out our boxes of Advent materials, setting up the Jesse Tree, Advent wreath (though I discovered that we're two candles short, so it's a bit incomplete), and nativity set. 

Ready to be filled with ornaments throughout the Advent season.
Once it hit about 4:40 p.m., I pulled out my breviary and prayed Sunday Evening Prayer I and excitedly dove into the prayers and words that mark the beginning of the Advent season. 

This year, I was particularly excited for Advent to begin. I think that because I didn't fully launch into Advent or Christmas festivities in those final days of Ordinary Time (though I will admit to taking a walk around the neighborhood to keep the toddler awake one evening...and to look at my neighbor's Christmas lights!), the anticipation of the coming season built up. And now, it is here. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

5 Fun ways to finish off the Liturgical Year

I know that the stores are already blasting Christmas music and Hallmark has a big lineup of holiday movies they've been showing (have you seen this Hallmark Christmas movie drinking game? It looks awesome), but Christmas has yet to make its appearance on the Liturgical Calendar. 

Sugar cookies with sprinkles to celebrate
the Solemnity of Christ the King! 
We just celebrated the Solemnity of Christ the King on Sunday, and now we have a few more days until Advent begins. I already wrote about some things we can do to prepare for the new liturgical year, but what should we do to end the current year? 

If you need any help finishing off this liturgical year on a fun note, here are some ideas to get you started:

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Preparing for the New Year & Learning about Hipsters

Happy Wednesday, friends! I'm guessing that most of you are, like me, in the throes of last-minute preparations for Thanksgiving. I'm a big believer in "get as many Thanksgiving things done as early as possible," but even then, I find myself scrambling to wash and dry that last load of diapers before we hit the road. Right now, the sound of the washing machine is blending with the sounds of The Punisher (I'm forever grateful that Netflix released it just before I started all of my Thanksgiving food preparations-because peeling potatoes and watching Frank Castle fight go hand in hand, yes?) and my house smells like dinner rolls. 

Throughotu all of these preparations, I've been thinking about the new  year. On December 3, 2017, we will start a new liturgical year with the season of Advent. I don't know about y'all, but a lot of times, Advent/the New Year jumps out at me and I'm unprepared. To help keep myself accountable, and to help any of you who might need inspiration, I recently wrote an article for CatholicMom.com about this: 3 Ways to Prepare for the New Year.

I've also been reading up a storm over here (what else is new?), and I was thrilled to read The Catholic Hipster Handbook, by Tommy Tighe. I've listened to Tighe's podcast off-and-on for the past several months, and couldn't wait to read his book. It was a delight to read. You can read my review here.

I hope that you all have a blessed and joyful Thanksgiving! Make sure to spend time in prayer and offer thanks to God!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Poetry Memorization Isn't Just for Kids

When I was a wee homeschooled child, I regularly memorized poetry. Dedicating time to reading and learning beautiful verses was part of our curriculum. In fact, all these years later, I still remember a few partial verses from a poem about Pocahontas that I once learned. Aside from a short stint of poetry memorization as part of a high school course, after my childhood days, I left this practice behind me. I didn't consciously think about the fact that I was no longer memorizing poetry, it just wasn't part of my required curriculum, so I no longer did it. 

A while back, I noticed another blogger mentioned including poetry memorization in her homeschool routine (I believe it was Anne-Marie). I remember thinking, "Oh, that's so awesome! I am excited to homeschool someday and do that too!" 

Time rolled on.  

Earlier this Fall, I read the book, Surprised by Oxford, and I LOVED how many poetic references were given. Different Romantics were quoted throughout the text, and I thought the interweaving of such beautiful language with the author's story was just fantastic. I looked at this book, I thought back to Anne-Marie's post, and I realized how much I missed poetry. Why should poetry  memorization wait for the day that I begin homeschooling, when I could start now?

I pulled my poems from a Victorian Era college course off the bookshelf. Flipping through, I looked back on these old friends. Tennyson...Rossetti...ah, Gerard Manley Hopkins! "God's Grandeur" caught my eye, so I began memorizing it. 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Toddler Tantrums, Raw Milk, & Simple Food (7QT)

Happy Friday, friends! It seems like just yesterday that October began, yet here we are, in November. Life is pretty full over here, so I decided that today would be a great opportunity to jump in with some quick takes about what I've been up to lately. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

A Saintly Celebration!

I love my family. 

Yes, I love my husband, child, parents and siblings, and my in-laws and other relatives. I love the fellowship, love, and relationships that we share. 

I also love my family in the Communion of Saints. 

The unity and fellowship of the faithful in the Church who are living in dead, praying and interceding for each other continually blows my mind. The Communion of Saints:

"...refers first to the "holy things" (sancta), above all the Eucharist, by which "the unity of believers, who form one body in Christ, is both represented and brought about. The term "communion of saints" refers also to the communion of "holy persons" (sancti) in Christ who "died for all," so that what each one does or suffers in and for Christ bears fruit for all." ~Catechism of the Catholic Church #960-961

There's the Church Triumphant: those in Heaven, praying and rejoicing in the gaze of God. There's the Church Suffering: those in Purgatory, who are being purified so that they may join God and the angels and saints in Heaven. There's the Church Militant: those of us on Earth who are seeking to bring the love of God to all people. 

On November 1, we celebrated All Saints Day. This glorious feast is an amazing day to honor and celebrate those men and women who are intimately united with God in Heaven. These people have lived lives of sanctity, and looking at how they served God in their lives helps us, because we can learn from them and ask them to intercede for us. 
Public domain. 
All Saints Day is a time for parties and fun, and this year, I decided that we needed to host a gathering. Throughout my childhood, I went to many All Saints Day parties. Some were small, and some were large. Some were extremely elaborate, involving a carnival in a church hall with several religious-themed games. Some were quite simple, consisting of "soul cakes" and bobbing for apples and a saint story. As much as I love the idea of elaborate All Saints Day parties, I decided that I couldn't handle anything too grand this year. So, we stuck with the "super-simple" route. 

Friday, November 3, 2017

On the Bookshelf: Falltime Reads

Falltime is in full swing, and I have been reading up a storm over here. Somehow, I wound up reading tons of non-fiction over the past couple months, and only a couple fiction books, so I think in the coming months I'll make a concerted effort to balance that out with more fiction reads. Without further ado, let's talk literature!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Instead of Throwing Away Halloween Candy, Do This

Every year in the beginning of November, I see social media posts from people who share that they are throwing their kids' Halloween candy into the trash. I get it: nobody wants to deal with a sugared-up kid for days on end. When you add in the fact that candy consumption isn't healthy, these photographs of candy sitting in the trash seem perfectly justified. However, there are some problems with this approach to Halloween candy. 

When we sneakily dump our child's candy into the trash, we are promoting the "throwaway culture"-literally. 

While we cannot really claim that the pieces of sugar known as Halloween candy are food, our societal normalization of trashing these consumables feeds into the wider attitude of wastefulness (Pope Francis speaks on this "culture of waste" here). Furthermore, casting handfuls of Halloween candy into the trash can does not teach our children any good lessons. 

But if I don't throw away my child's Halloween candy, won't I be destined to experience children on sugar overload? 

Not necessarily. YOU are the parent. YOU can guide your child to learn how to make choices. YOU can take positive steps to end the "culture of waste" that we live in. And you  can do all these things without experiencing a post-Halloween sugar crash or trashing all the candy.