Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Letter to Myself as a New Mom

I overheard on the internet some young moms planning out their motherhoods, with pins and homeschool blogs and library reading lists giving them all sorts of information, none of which they can do anything with as they still hold their first babies. It all reminded me of myself six years ago, of the woman and mother I thought I was and was going to be as I mapped it all out. The more I thought about those new moms the more I thought, "It's not my place to tell Sally and Jan that their Pinterest boards are likely setting them up to feel like failures. But if I could give myself some advice, what would it be?" Well, friends, this is what it would be. This letter is to me and for me and maybe you will relate and maybe you won't. Either way I'd love to hear what you'd tell your new-mom self if you could.

Dear Bonnie,

You have a beautiful little girl. She is gorgeous. Right now you feel exhilarated. Soon enough you will feel overwhelmed. Six years later I (you) have learned a few things and I want to share them with you.

The transition of having zero kids to having one will be the hardest thing you do in the first 32 years of your life. It will be harder than a seven week stay in the NICU. It will be harder than the stress of living paycheck to paycheck. It will be harder than going from one to two, two to three, three to four, and four to five kids. And you do that in five years and zero to one is still the hardest so cut yourself some slack.

Stop listening to what other people want you to do or think you should do. Trust your gut, Mom, and the law; follow those three and you'll be fine. You will make yourself miserable trying to please all the "they"s in the parenting world.

Don't give a damn about what They say about nipple confusion - give your baby girl a pacifier!!!

Don't listen to what They say about sleeping in recliners or on sofas while holding your baby - it's the only way you will both get some sleep so just do it! Co-sleeping in a bed won't work for you but propped up on the couch you'll be fine. Travis will finally figure this out and sleep in the recliner, holding her for the majority of her first year but only after several long, frustrating, crying-filled weeks.

Don't let Them make you feel guilty about how you wear your baby. Spend some money on an Ergo, buckle her in, and she will be happy and you can wash the dishes and sweep the floor like you want. Better to wear her like she wants to be in a way that makes you comfortable and allows you to keep your home tidy (because a tidy home makes you feel more relaxed). Better that than to not wear her at all and listen to her cry and not get anything done because They want you to try a sling or 54.5 yards of fabric criss-crossed, wrapped around, and tied up in a bow like a freakin' silks acrobat.

Your beautiful little baby cries. A lot. She's super tired and she wants to be held, all of the time. You are super tired and don't want to be touched. Through the years you'll learn that physical affection is her strongest love language and that will be hard for you.  However, being sensitive and wanting lots of hugs and snuggles are just part of who she is, so don't fight it. Work with it. Like I said above, hold her while you both nap. Wear her in that Ergo I already talked to you about. Arrange for people to come over and hold her for you so you can escape to your bed from time to time and nap alone.

Brace yourself for this one a little bit. You have postpartum depression. Yes, you are beyond exhausted but it is more than that and you know it. Do something. Now. Please. You will otherwise spend the next six years wondering whatever happened to who you were and who you thought you would be as a mother. You will spend the next six years raging, anxious, stressed out, and always on the verge of losing your patience, temper, self control. Your kids, husband, home, and self will all suffer because of it. Please.

Finally, let's be frank. Six years later, you're fat. If you don't sleep and treat your depression you're going to spend the next six years binge eating, comfort eating, over-eating. Ten pounds a year in the next six years does not look pretty and it's starting to wreak havoc on your body. Put down the fourth cookie, drink a big glass of water, take your pill, take a nap, and then go for a walk.


PS - You're a good mom.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Instagrammers you should follow: audreyeclectic81

It was Carrots for Michaelmas who introduced me to Audrey Eclectic, artwork created by Heather. I have since filled my Pinterest boards with her artwork and I'm hoping I get this print in time for Advent so I can hang it proudly in my home. Finding Heather on Instagram made me so happy and I look forward to all her pictures. If you're not following her, do!

What images do you try to capture for Instagram?
For me, I use instagram as a correspondence and 'quick postcard' to friends, family, and people who enjoy my artwork. My feed isnt highly stylized-- I post different things including paintings I'm working on, things that make me laugh or smile, sweet pictures of my children, my home, or things I see out and about in my hometown or on trips that I think are worth sharing. For me, its a way to stay in touch with kindred spirits. I love the little community that grows out of instagram. You can see what your friends are up to, and share your projects as well. It seems to be very positive in how everyone interacts, and I've even sold work before I've finished it through showing it in progress on instagram!

Do you filter? If yes, which ones are your favorites?
I do use filters, although I usually have no rhyme or reason for it--- I will scroll through them and see which one has the right amount of contrast, enhances or subdues the colors in a pleasing way, or brings out the image in a unique way. I like the more subtle filters such as amaro, rise, and earlybird.

 What is beautiful to you?
I enjoy homey images-- photos of old houses, well loved rooms, children playing, people working on their art or their crafts. I love to see what people are making--- it inspires and motivates me to share what I am creating as well. I also love that a new habit that develops from blogging or instagramming is noticing the little things in our lives and environments that are worth taking a moment and savoring. How nicely a knitting project is coming sweet a sleeping little one pretty the evening light is filtering through the flower garden. I believe that these fun diversions also help us see that no matter who you are or what you are doing, you are surrounded by beautiful and special moments if you watch for them.

Something I enjoy about Instagram
I also love searching hashtags (usually late at night while nursing my 6 month old!) of far away places I'd love to visit. Its like little mini-vacations via instagram! I follow several feeds featuring Sweden, Norway, Switzerland and other beautiful far away places I might never see in person, but through instagram I'm able to see the beautiful old buildings, churches, countryside, and special places in each country, all while cuddled in the bed with my little one in the middle of the night. It's an amazing treat! I highly suggesting searching a country or city you'd love to visit. No passport required!

What do you hope people come away with from looking at your pictures?
I hope that people come away from looking at my feed as if they've just had a quick chat with a friend. Imagine us getting together over coffee, talking about the cute thing our kid did, what project we're working on, what little thing we saw the other day that captured our attention and made us stop and think, "that is beautiful."

You can find Heather:
on Instagram, audreyeclectic81
on her blog,
at her Etsy shop,
at her website,

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Best of the Web (and a wishlist item)

Do I know someone crafty who loves me and was trying to think of a nice Christmas gift? Oh YOU?! Well, if you insist... How about these awesome photo backgrounds? I think a lot of bloggers would love something like this for our "oh please pin me!" images. Actually, I could probably make them myself if I had the money - Travis has the right staple gun. I would even hang them on my walls so they'd double as decorations. Love it!

Grace shared a brownie recipe and I just had to try it. Dagnabit, I shouldn't have done it because those brownies are SO freakin' good! I didn't have cream cheese and made them sans the cow spots and still, by golly!

Some of my favorite bloggers did a little blog hop party and shared their Mass + kiddos tales and tricks. There's Abbey and her ten tips, Sarah and her standards, Haley and her 27 books, Kendra and her age appropriate goals, and Christy and her prep.

Fr. Barron's homily for today, the Feast of St. Augustine, is pretty good.

Rockstar Catholic DRE and godmother to my oldest, Katie has some fab ideas for encouraging parents to be more involved in religious ed.

Finally I am SUPER EXCITED (caps lock don't lie) to tell you that on September 1st Blessed Is She will begin sending out daily devotionals based on the Bible readings from Mass for the day. Beautiful, solid devotions written by women just like you (+ one rock star).
To kick it all off there will be a Twitter Chat Monday night at 9pm Eastern. But you can also follow BIS on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest, just in case Twitter isn't your thing.

Please be sure to go to Blessed Is She and sign up for the daily devotionals. Let's help each other in our walks with the Lord and let's live authentic Catholic lives.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Instagammers you should follow: rachelbalducci

I'd like to be Rachel Balducci when I grow up. Funny, real, happily celebrating my 20th wedding anniversary, watching my kiddos grow into amazing young men and women... Her blog is one of my favorites, I guess because she shows me what the next part of my life can be like. Her Instagram account is also one of my favorites, each picture like a little sneak peak into her life. A behind-the-scenes, if you will. 

Anyways, Rachel s the next up in my Instagrammers You Should Follow series and I'm so honored that she's here.

How do you use IG?
For Instagram, I try to capture slice of life, beautiful moments, usually a sweet moment in the midst of the crazy or the crazy itself.  I love the crazy. Mostly, I want to capture (for myself as a reminder, for others as a witness) that this life God has given to me is FUN. I want to show that life with six kids is worth the effort, and that there is beauty in the chaos. I acknowledge the chaos, but I prefer to focus on the beautiful moments within it. 

You can find Rachel...
at her blog, Testosterhome
on Instagram, rachelbalducci

Read Anna's here and Nancy's here.

Friday, August 22, 2014

7QT - Lip sync challenge, Lydia's a first grader, blanched corn, a crown cake, and Mary

1 - Here's my submission for Kelly's lip sync battle. The gauntlet has been thrown down! We win by the person with the most thumbs up on YouTube so please head over and vote for me, all ya'all!

2 - Speaking of Lydia, she had her first day of 1st grade on Monday. Look at my beautiful sweetie pie!
She's excited about the peanut butter cookies she made for her teacher.

 On her first day of kindergarten she wanted to be the Queen of all Butterflies. Now she wants to be a veterinarian like our friend Liz. She also wants to learn "to do math in the 100's."

Sitting in her desk, ready to learn. What  a cutie!

3 - I'm going to do a little shameless blog promotion here. Anna Hatke (@annamberto) gave some really beautiful answers in her profile in my Instagrammers You Should Follow series. One of my favorite parts is this:

I actually made a conscious choice to be a public account at one point because I realized that it was one small way I could open my house to the stranger at the door. American life is very private, unnaturally private even, and as a Christian I have always loved how Christ encountered people, usually on the streets in the midst of their normal lives, and always first as persons. We don't have a lot of opportunities for that, especially those of us who stay at home raising children. So for me Instagram is like a little commons, a piazza if you will. We can encounter people "on the street." I like that Instagram offers me a chance to show my faith in my daily life and in a way that is natural and uncontrived.

You should go read the rest. And then read Nancy's. And then come back here and finish these quick takes.

Also, I finally got around to making another video and this one has some basic information on Adoration and includes reference to the Yo Dawg meme so you know it's good.

4 - The other day I was super domestic and the kids were super good so I was able to make home made bagels and chocolate chip cookies. I also blanched and froze corn my grandpa brought us from his nephew's farm. It was actually kinda fun.


Cold water bathing

Cooling and drying 

Cutting the corn from the cob.

Freezing and ready for the winter. 

5 - Here's what I've been up to today:
 Went to the library to pick up Daddy Long Legs which is my book club's next pick. My library has a drive up window - how cool is that?

I also bought some new earrings at WalMart for $1 and then came home and made a giant rice krispie treat in the shape of a crown for today's feast: The Queenship of Mary.

Also, this happened:

6 - Just a reminder, folks, that Leila Lawler, blogger at Like Mother, Like Daughter and author of The Little Oratory, will be speaking in Washington, Illinois tomorrow, Saturday the 23rd. Hope you can come!

7 - Mary and Courtney.have been on my heart and mind a lot lately. I've been offering up lots of extra prayers and most of my sufferings for Mary and her family. For a very long time I could not read Mary's blog. Courtney, you see, is very much like what James should have been: blind, diapers, feeding tube, seizures, confined to a wheelchair. He was also supposed to have very severe cerebral palsy so that his body would be locked and contorted but the similarities were enough. Peering into Courtney's world was too painful for me and I felt nothing but guilt. Guilt that my baby was healed while Mary and Courtney suffered so much. For the longest time, every time I looked at Passionate Perseverance I felt like I needed to apologize. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry that you're going through this and I'm not." I was still so afraid of the James who was supposed to be. I was still going through the grief of it all. Heck, every time I tell James' story I go through the grief of it all.

But then I started to notice something. Mary kept linking up with What I Wore Sunday. She was so cute and sassy and well dressed. She was vibrant and I stopped feeling guilty around her and started wanting to be like her. Her joy, her love, her passion - it was all so palpable. Mary's witness has done more to heal my heart than probably any other blog. God has used her and Courtney and their whole family to bring me closer to Him. I am so grateful.

Because of my gratitude for all Mary has done I am really, truly, sincerely asking you to pray for her, her husband, and children. Courtney's doctor have told them to prepare for the end. Lord have mercy on us all.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Finally! A new Knot Bad Video: Easy Adoration

The whole reason I make my Knot Bad Videos is to help people live liturgically - to bring the seasons of the Church into their homes and the every day lives of their families. I especially want to help people who are are just starting out but don't know where to begin.

Maybe that's you.

Maybe you are beginning RCIA so you can join the Church this Easter Vigil (that is so cool!) and you feel like you have so much to learn. So, so much.

Maybe you are a cradle Catholic but you're just now beginning to take your faith seriously. You kinda sorta know what to do but you're not sure exactly what and you really don't know the why or how.

Maybe you're someone who is looking for ideas but has been overwhelmed by Pinterest and other websites. Well, look no further because I have some bare bones ideas here, folks!

In this video I cover some basics like how to make the sign of the cross and how to genuflect. I also share some ways that I work Eucharistic Adoration into my busy life with little kids. If you're not used to making a Holy Hour, well I've got some tricks to hopefully make it less intimidating for you too.

The liturgical season of Ordinary Time, which we are now in, is the time to grow. Here's hoping this video will help us all do just that.

You can see all my Knot Bad Videos here.

Instagrammers You Should Follow: annamberto

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I am a huge fan of Ben Hatke's. We own all of his Zita books, several other books he's illustrated, I'm planning on giving Julia's House for Lost Creatures to Teresa this Christmas, and I know more than one Chestertonian who will be happy to see his illustrations in the new edition of The Ball and the Cross.

One day I was looking at his Facebook page (not in a creepy stalker way, okay? geesh!) and he shared an image from his wife's Instagram account. I was smitten and a little later I literally sent her a fan email via Ben's email account. "Hi Ben. Could you please pass this on to your wife? Hi Anna..." I'm totally not a weirdo. I promise.

But that's the story of how I found and began to follow Anna's IG account. It's gorgeous and interesting and, well, I'll let Anna do the rest of the talking and you can enjoy her thoughts and her gorgeous pictures.

What images do you try to capture for Instagram?
I try to capture moments of unexpected beauty that I find in the midst of the mess of daily work, mothering, etc. I like showing those moments because they happen alongside the other moments, the piles of laundry, screaming children, etc. and its a reminder to me and others that they exist in the midst of all that. I like to see that.

Do you have any sort of plan or set of rules for how you use IG?
Not really, I initially joined because as a sanguine/choleric I knew Facebook would be bad news for me and a major distraction. Instagram offered a way to share photos and keep up with my family. My husband and I made a pact: he does Facebook and I do Instagram. It's funny though, because for me Instagram has sort of morphed into a way to connect with other people who share a similar lifestyle and culture, i.e. natural foods, homeschooling, breastfeeding. Many of the folks I follow live in the country and keep small homesteads, but are part of this new young generation of back to the landers with iphones. I have also connected with some of my husbands friends, author and publishing professionals, and that makes me feel a connection to his world as well.

Do you filter? If yes, which ones are your favorites?
Yes I do. I use an ipad, and it takes grainy photos. No iphone here, so I just use just whatever looks best, captures the mood of the photo and helps with the graininess. I never use Kelvin. I just don't like it. (shrugs shoulders), not sure why.

Do you see IG as an evangelization tool and do you use it as such?
Ha! I actually made a conscious choice to be a public account at one point because I realized that it was one small way I could open my house to the stranger at the door. American life is very private, unnaturally private even, and as a Christian I have always loved how Christ encountered people, usually on the streets in the midst of their normal lives, and always first as persons. We don't have a lot of opportunities for that, especially those of us who stay at home raising children. So for me Instagram is like a little commons, a piazza if you will. We can encounter people "on the street." I like that Instagram offers me a chance to show my faith in my daily life and in a way that is natural and uncontrived. I do see IG as an evangelization tool but it is not my primary reason for using it. Lastly I do think the old adage holds true for this issue, a picture is indeed worth a thousand words.

What is beautiful to you?
Oh gosh,where to start. . . Well, my husband is an artist so we talk about beauty a lot. I find beauty mostly in the natural world, in mountains and skies, in animal life and in the human body. And of course genuine human culture. I see beauty in the way a child plays and works when she is totally focused and absorbed. Children can be masters of play when we let them. It is beautiful to see that. I find beauty in books, in the sunlight on my morning cup of coffee, in my husband, in dear friendships, and in the high feasts Easter and Christmas in particular. Its everywhere! And now that we all have little cameras in our pockets we can share it constantly. Crazy huh?

What do you hope people come away with from looking at your pictures?
I hope that it changes, in whatever small way, the prevailing misconception that a woman who makes a home is somehow not empowered. I hope it makes the idea of a woman staying at home a more powerful image. A woman at home is not necessarily any one thing. She can be empowered by her home domain, or enslaved by it. It's all in how she chooses to use it. She can step back and let society tell her what to consume and how to behave, or she can take control and make her space productive and stimulating. It's an invaluable space that she controls. It is where the work of peace is begun. I think this idea applies to all women -not just those of us who stay at home. I hope my images paint life at home in an inspiring light.

You can find Anna...
on Instagram at @annamberto
You can find her husband, Ben Hatke at his website:

I hope you're having fun and maybe discovering some new favorites for your IG feeds. I've got a few more Instagrammers lined up in this series and if you missed the first, please check out Nancy's interview here.