Monday, August 13, 2018

On the Bookshelf: One Last Summertime Reading Roundup

Hey there! Summer is starting to wind down (even though it will probably still be pretty hot for several weeks yet), and I figured it'd be a great time to update y'all about my latest reading endeavors. I have rediscovered how frustrated I get with much contemporary fiction, and found myself picking up some books and tossing them back in the library book box that I keep in my closet after just a chapter or two. Other books, I read and enjoyed for the most part, but weren't so stellar that I'd re-read them. However, never fear-in the past several weeks, I have read some truly delightful books that I really enjoyed. So let's talk literature!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Just my 80 year old friends and I, drinking coffee

We were sitting around a small round dining table, our large mugs of steaming coffee before us. Photos of babies, trinkets from years and years of collecting, and the light of the TV screen all filtered into my view. My neighbors (a sweet married couple) and one of their best friends--a kind, gentle elderly woman--chatted and served crackers to my toddler. The warm afternoon sunlight drifted in the room, catching on my neighbor's wispy white hair. 

...if we reach 75 years of marriage, I want him to buy me the biggest diamond he can find! My neighbor declared, grinning at her husband. I'll just wear it and look at it, she said, holding her hand in front of her, dangling from the hypothetical weight of the aforementioned diamond. 

Huh. Guess I'll just try my luck and buy a box of Cracker Jacks and find a ring inside, her husband retorted good-naturedly. 

The back-and-forth ribbing went on, escalating when I did some quick mental math and informed my neighbors that it is actually possible for the two of them to both be alive for their 75th wedding anniversary. They'd both be in their 90s, but it could happen!

Thursday, August 9, 2018

To be a woman in my "condition"

Several weeks ago, it happened. Someone, with the best of intentions I'm sure, dropped the line "...a woman in your condition." 

While I can't remember the specifics of our conversation, these words have stuck with me. I'm not offended or hurt by this comment, but I do find the phrase rather sad and narrow-minded. 

A woman in your condition. 

My "condition" being...what exactly? Oh yes, that I'm pregnant with a human being. So please, just say "a woman who is pregnant." Don't give me some sort of condescending-sounding euphemism. 

Not only that, but a woman in your condition seems to imply that I have a delicate health issue I'm dealing with. While some women have complications during pregnancy and need to follow a strict regime to keep themselves and their babies safe, for many women, pregnancy is a normal, low-risk state of being. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Reading for Fun: Practical Ways to Make it Happen

As many of you have probably gathered, I love to read, and I believe that reading is an important activity. I've discussed about how I don't "have time" to read, and I firmly believe that a mindset shift is extremely helpful in realizing that no matter how busy we are, we can make time to read.
This is all fine and good, but what does it look like in the practical sense? What does reading "for fun" involve when one's days are occupied with family life and work? What strategies can we employ to make leisure reading happen regularly? 

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Thoughts for a Tuesday Morning

I sat at a table, tutoring some unknown man in science. As we sat and reviewed his science notes, he kept pointing his finger at a line that was written in my notebook: "Love is at the center of who I am." Over and over, he repeated this phrase. 

When I rolled out of bed, bleary-eyed, the words of this dream echoed in my mind. 

Dreams are funny things. Why in the world was I tutoring someone else in science? It's never been my strong subject. Who was this random person I was tutoring? And why would this phrase be written in my science notebook? I really don't know the answers to these questions. In fact, the only reason why I recall this dream is because I made mention of it in my writing notebook. 

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Life, Death, & Beatrix Potter

My eyes swept across the Children's Section of the library, and they settled on one particular bookcase. That tell-tale row of small books, standing together like a tidy row in a garden, could only be one thing: Beatrix Potter books.

"Look! We're going to get you a special book!" I cried, tugging my toddler's hand and scurrying over to that shelf. I had recently realized that my sweet boy, at two years old, needed to expand his literary taste beyond Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and Goodnight, Mr. Darcy. I determined that we had reached the turning point in his life where he would meet Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny, and the other whimsical creatures that Beatrix Potter created.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

On the Bookshelf: The Bookish Summer Continues

I've been requesting bunches of books through inter-library loan as I try to make a dent in my "to read" list, so I figured it'd be a good time to hop on here and mention what I've been reading! 

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Waffle Bookends: A little bit of summertime

It all started with waffles. 
My toddler is really, really into waffles, and I am, too. I bounced out of bed after prayer time one morning last week and danced into the kitchen. As I listened to recent episodes of The Catholic Hipster Podcast, I stirred together a quick batch of waffle batter. My son toddled out and I served him up a plate of waffles as I continued pouring batter, putting away the ingredients, and laughing at the banter on the podcast. I was having so much fun that I lost track of time. Suddenly, glancing at the clock, I dashed over to where my husband was on the other end of the house. Hurriedly, I explained that I have to go, don't let the waffles burn! and I grabbed a plate of waffles with peanut butter, my purse, and my notes for counseling. 

Dropping everything into the seat next to me, I drove off. Within about five minutes, everything was going fairly well. The traffic was sparse, I had managed to cram a few bites of waffles into my mouth, and I was making good time. Suddenly, as I braked for a red light, it happened: My notebook, which I had precariously leaned against the back of the seat (not smart, I know) belly-flopped onto my waffles. I pulled up the notebook to see that-yes-nearly all of the peanut butter had transferred to my notes.  

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

I don't "have time" to read (so here's what I do)

I love to read books. Fiction or non-fiction, memoirs or novels; I'll pick it up. I've been going through stacks of books this summer, and I even just managed to finish Elizabeth Gaskell's lengthy, wonderful novel Wives and Daughters. I blog about books frequently, I'm always eager to talk about literature, and I read for several hours each month. 
I recently realized that I should be actively making a dent in my "to read" list
-as opposed to simply picking up whatever looks intriguing on the library's shelf-
so I've been requesting books through inter-library loan and naturally, many of them came in at once. 
This all might make you think: Wow, she has so much time to read! 

I honestly wouldn't blame you for having this thought; it seems like a fairly logical assumption to make. Yet, even though I stay at home instead of working an office job, time allotted to "reading for fun" doesn't just magically happen.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

How Minimalism Can Build Community

There have been occasions when I run into the idea that if we want to grow in community with others, we need more stuff. Supposedly, we need lots of toys for when our children's friends come over. We need lots of nice furniture for when other people drop by to visit. We need lots of dishes for all of the dinner parties we plan to host. We need cupboards overflowing with food so that we can adequately feed every person who steps over our doorstep. 

I used to wholeheartedly subscribe to this mentality. In fact, when we made a wedding registry during our engagement, I recall believing that we needed to register for a huge flatware set and lots of glasses, because think of all the kids we'll have! Think of all the gatherings we'll host! We need to plan for the future! 

***glances back shamefully at a cupboard which contains beautiful glasses that have never seen the light of day ***

At this point in my life, I'm a bit of a minimalist. And there have been one or two times when my minimalism has been met with a Well, that's really nice for you, but I'm good with hospitality and I like being welcoming to people. This kind of statement makes sense, doesn't it? Remember those ideas that we have as a society-the reasons which basically tell us that if we want to build community, we need stuff. To be clear, I know some people-with wonderful homes-who are incredibly welcoming and hospitable, and they are not minimalists by any means. I don't think that they necessarily should be minimalists if that kind of lifestyle doesn't jive with them. However, I've found that in my own life, minimalism has actually helped me build community with others. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

My Summer Goal

I love summertime. I love the jubilant feeling that spreads as the days grow long and special summertime rituals-the library Summer Reading Program, swimming pools and water parks, Fourth of July events-fill the calendar. Even though I am an absolute wimp when it comes to hot weather and I long for the cooler days of falltime, I still really do love this current season. However, over the years, I've found that a general lack of routine during the summer months can cause me to fall into a bit of a slump. Crafting a "Summer Bucket List" with a list of objectives has been helpful to me in the past, so that I stay mentally, physically, and spiritually on track. Items ranging from "Bike to daily Mass" to "Read at least one of Shakespeare's plays" have graced my seasonal to-do lists over the years. 

This year, though, I decided not to make a detailed list. Instead, I have a general goal, which is becoming the theme of my summer. You know how many bloggers write about picking a "word for the year"? Well, that's kind of what happened to me regarding summertime. As I thought about what I wanted to do and achieve this summer, one word kept coming back to me: invest.