Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Our back to school tradition

It's pretty simple, and it's definitely not as amazing as some of those chalkboards and cool, stylized things my friends do, but it works for us. 

On the first day of school I grab a marker and a sheet of paper and do a quick survey of the kids. 
"I am excited to learn..."
"I want to be a ____ when I grow up."
"I like...."

It's so fun to see them change from the beginning to the end of each year and then from school year to school year. 

So here's this year's, for prosperity's sake. 


Monday, August 31, 2015

What's up? Oh you know, bed rest.

This past week and a half was not what I thought it would be. I had envisioned daily walks with the littles during the gorgeous weather. I pictured working in my flower and vegetable gardens. I thought I'd bake some cookies for the kids to eat after school and tackle my To Do list.

And then a week and a half ago I started to feel achy in my lower back, just before dinnertime on a Wednesday. I napped, ate supper, went to bed early, and by 2 am I was in so much pain I could not sleep any longer. It felt like one long, solid contraction that would increase in intensity, making me nauseous and / or making me cry from the pain. Travis took me to the hospital, where I stayed for another day and a half. There were a couple of hard, scary moments but in the end I was able to come home with a safe and healthy 22 week old baby still growing inside.

But then came bed rest.

I didn't do a ton of typing but I did do a lot of internet browsing and when I found this Etsy shop I fell in love and immediately began making plans.

I have a little list of all the prints I'd like to buy, starting with this one:

A nod to OutKast for the bathroom.

This Chesterton print for the boys' room?

This pretty mermaid one

and this Cinderella quote for the girls' room

I'd put this quote in my living room because I so fully believe it and try to live it.

And for the kitchen, a little Julia Childs

and a couple wise words

about making the most out of the day to hang right on my newly bright white soffit.

This morning I'll be heading back to my midwife and I'm hoping there will be an ease-up on the bed rest, allowing me a little more freedom. (You cannot believe the amount of cobwebs I spotted in the house while lying around! They MUST come down!)

If you could all just say a quick prayer, throw a Hail Mary or Glory Be up for me and my unborn baby and our whole family, that would be so wonderful and I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks.

Oh and PS - this wasn't a sponsored post, I really do just love those prints!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Heading back to school and flipping the bird at the Mommy Wars

Back to school is early in Illinois (mid August) but it makes me think Fall thoughts.

After a summer of playing in the sprinkler, eating drippy popcicles on the patio, and watching movies in the cool air conditioning during the heat of the day I am ready for the next season. It's much less sweaty for this pregnant woman.

I'm pretty pumped about autumn and what that means in my part of the country. I can't wait to get the autumn decorations out, but I'm also feeling a little emotional - just like I did when L started school. The same kiddos who went to school last year will be in school again this year, but Ben is now beginning kindergarten with the official school uniform and full school day. There's so much I want for all my kids, but this just about sums it up:

But this is not about me - this is about you and you, L, are about to do some amazing things. School is so much fun. Being a part of a school community is so much fun. You will learn, play, grow, and be loved. I hope you are happy and challenged and encouraged. Please know that your father and I expect you to always show compassion, generosity, and respect. We expect you to always be kind, good, honest, and hard-working. We want you to love and serve and glorify our good God.

As much as I am getting misty-eyed over milestones, I am also remembering that the schedule and rhythm school brings to our home is a huge gift for me - it is freeing for me. That's one of the things I learned in Kindergarten:

More than anything, what I learned in kindergarten, after two years of pathetic attempts at super basic "homeschool" preschool (we're talking letter, shape, and number recognition here along with a little catechism), is that I need structure and I am really bad at giving it to myself. Our days ran so much more smoothly when the school day made us get up, get dressed, and be out the door by a certain time. Our home was immeasurably more peaceful following the school day routine. And perhaps most importantly I thrived with that schedule. Thrived.

Next year may bring something different for us as we make decisions to keep James safe from his dairy allergy, but right now I feel really great about what we're doing right now:

I am " interested in educating and building up [my] children, family, and community through traditional school," and I'm seeing that happen in our family's life now, which is really wonderful.

At this time of year I see a lot of my friends beginning their homeschooling. My good friend Grete is in week 3 because my good friend Grete has got her act together! Sometimes I look at her life and her amazing kiddos and the wonderful things they are able to do and... I am so happy for them while not wanting that life at all. (Which I say with a laugh and confidence that Grete would laugh too. Or at least smile. Perhaps while shaking her head at me.) I've seen how the schooling choices they've made over the years have really blessed their family and I feel like I've watched my friend become a better and more truer version of herself.

It's been really beautiful and totally a flipped birdie to the Mommy Wars that her parenting choice has been so different than mine and yet we are both so happy in our vocations and homes, and we are friends.

Once I wrote about not homeschooling:

Having the desire for be part of a traditional school community, to have time to volunteer in your community, to create or work, and then using the time while your kids are at school to do those things doesn't mean you're selfish or that you care less for your children. God has gifted you with certain talents, convictions, and holy desires - be who He has made you to be and you will set the world on fire.

I 100% believe that is true, and it's been a gift for me to have the hours of the school days to spend more time with my littles, to work on and create things that I love, and to try to serve our parish, friends, and family. But I also want to stress that that's what works for me and you should see Grete and all the things she is able to accomplish.

Back to school time can be such a beautiful testament to the fact that God has made us each unique, that there are seasons in our lives, that we have been gifted with different talents and strengths, that we are all on a path towards holiness, and that when we embrace those things our lives will look splendidly different but equally good.

Today two of my kiddos have their first day of school with another beginning mid-week. I'll be laying low in internetland over the next couple of weeks, tackling various projects and obligations and helping my cranky, hot, tired, hungry kids re-adjust to the school year. By September we will be on a roll so you'll see more of me then. Have fun, keep cool, and be good. ;)

Tangent in question form: Do you think it's okay if I get out the lovely fall decorations for the August 22nd Blessed Brunch I'm hosting? I have a rule (that I usually break) of no fall decorations before September 1st... What do you think?

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Assumption and some great milestones

Let's start off with one of my favorite Marian songs, courtesy of JJ Heller. Or as Sebastian says in The Little Mermaid: moooood music.

Today is the Feast of the Assumption of Mary. It's the day we Catholics honor Mary's special relationship with Christ and our belief that God preserved her from sin and therefore brought to Heaven body and soul at her death.

When I think of Mary I prefer to think of her as the mother of a grown Son. As I wrote once, "I like to think of her, Jesus and the apostles sitting around and she's telling them stories of the days in Egypt. Of the goodness of her husband. Of what it was like when the angel came to her. Of her three months with Elizabeth. I think that by the time she was standing at the foot of the cross she wasn't as thin as she had been in youth, though she was solid and strong. Her hands and face weren't as firm and wrinkle free. This is the woman I turn to for help in prayers."

Beyond just being a wonderful feast day, there's also some great things happening with two ministries I love (and I'm a part of).

One year ago today Blessed Is She launched and it's been such an answer to prayers for me: a daily devotional that is written by Catholic women for Catholic women. That's not fluff. That's not heretical. That's well done. Praised be Jesus! For example, here's today's devotion.

There's even a sweet giveaway happening over at the Blessed Is She site in honor of the celebration.

Additionally, The Visitation Project now has it's own website, thanks to your generosity. Coming very soon will be a newsletter for our listeners, special exclusives, and aired episodes available on iTunes.

Thank you to everyone has supported BIS and TVP over the last months.

Now go eat some blue jello with marshmallows or whipped cream (like a sky, get it?)!

Happy Feast Day!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

End of summer

Summer has flown by and is almost at an end. The kids go back next week and I'll have a second grader and a kindergartner both at our parish school, a pre-k-er at the public school, two at home, and one in the oven. (Whaaaat?!!!)

What was I saying? Oh yes: This summer has been a good one. 

Resa is fully, 100% out of diapers and 100% adorable.

 We have watched a lot of Doctor Who, getting ready for the season that was just released on Netflix.
 This is L, entranced with River Song.

We've done some small jobs around the house and yard. The newer wallpaper is pretty blah, and the old wallpaper I uncovered is... well ugly now. However, if this was bright and clean and new I would actually love it. Soon it will be painted white.

The yard needed taming. Well, it still needs a lot of help, but slow and steady wins the race. Ben helping his dad is just so, so, so, so cute.

Joe turned two and we had a Curious George party for him. Look at that cake my sister in law made and look at that smile. He was thrilled with us singing to him.

On Facebook people keep sharing an old article by Brandon Vogt about the advising medical experts approving James' alleged miracle, thinking it's new and that the cause has been re-opened. Unfortunately that is not true and, to my knowledge, the cause is still closed.

Which is really sad, so let's look at a cute picture of Ben and JF sleeping in our bed.

It's funny the article is going around now because just two weeks ago I shared my 30 minute presentation during a live Google broadcast. If you missed it, you can watch (or just listen to) the video here.

Last week I was back in the Portland, Oregon area recording more episodes of The Visitation Project. I'm really excited for the shows we did and I can't wait for you to hear them!

One of the episodes we recorded was the exclusive podcast that is available to our donors. You get to meet our engineer, Keith, and hear some other secret stuff. If you've got ten bucks to spare and you'd like to receive the podcast, our GoFundMe is still live and we'd love a little help. Here's where I explain why we need you and what makes our show different than other podcasts we all know and love. 

And lastly, if you missed Sunday night's episode, it's up on the Mater Dei website. A mom who homeschools, a mom who used to homeschool and now sends her kid to parochial school, and a mom with kids at the parochial and public school - hear what we have to say about being the primary educator of your children. Check it out here!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Doctor Who, Holly Golightly, TVP, and you

What do Doctor Who and Holly Golightly have in common?

They both have a definite understanding of what's cool, be it bowties or little black dresses. They are both pop culture icons. And they have both financially supported The Visitation Project. (There's different levels of giving, beginning at $10, and each has a special Thank You gift to go with it.)

The Visitation Project is a radio show but I know a lot of our listeners do not listen over the airwaves, but treat TVP as a podcast which I think is awesome.

Listeners like Megan:

Right now TVP only broadcasts in one corner of the big ole USA. Our hope, though is that soon more and more radio stations will begin to pick it up.

Imagine if, while running errands you tuned into your local Catholic radio station and you were greeted by a Texan, a midwesterner, and a hippy. It's like I'm riding shotgun in your minivan!

Imagine if your Catholic radio station carried voices, perspectives, and conversations you identified with.

Imagine if not just women who are in the know about podcasts or have subscriptions to special radio stations were able to stumble upon a radio show that was a mix of pop culture, family life, and a vibrant faith.

But even for those of us who like our podcasts - for walks or chores or dinner prep - here's some good reasons why TVP is a little different, and why what we do, while is costs money, is beneficial to you.

-Recording together, in person means we benefit form a professional radio engineer and equipment. This allows for less technical difficulties and a clearer, more vibrant sound, which means no matter where you're listening you can hear us over your coworkers, sizzling dinner, or playing kids.

- Working in Catholic radio, we are trying to reach a group of women who have been largely unreached. We talk about mother-in-laws, Sacraments, pop music, depression, self-care, and Divine Mercy. We are not a news show. We are three friends who are having fun but also wanting to show the world that Catholics aren't sticks in the mud.

- Being a part of Catholic radio means we are listener supported, however we are essentially free. There are no membership fees, no "Cool Kids Club," and no fancy equipment you need beyond a computer or - hopefully some day - your local Catholic radio station.

Now, I know that money is tight for a lot of our listeners. I also know everyday it seems like someone is asking for money. Maybe you are asked out. Maybe you're budget is really tight. I get that. Believe me, I get that!

So that's why I'm very happy to let you know that for those of you who give just $10 there is a special incentive - a podcast that will only be available to our donors. If you can give at the next level, $25, you receive the podcast + a copy of my chocolate chip cookie recipe. If you give enough I'll even bake you some and ship them to your house. :)

We are so grateful for everyone who has given, beyond the Doctor and Holly. To those of you who have given and to those who will: Thank You!

To give, click here.

Friday, July 31, 2015

You down with TVP? Yeah, you know me!

Hello, friends!

 Rebecca, Heather, and I are very excited to record another round of TVP episodes *next week,* but we need to let you in on a secret:

like many good things in life, producing The Visitation Project comes with a pricetag.

It's not too steep, but it's more than we can afford from our tight family budgets. If you like what you've been hearing and not only would like to hear more, but would like to help us expand our outreach with a website, iTunes podcasts, newsletters, and more, please consider supporting us financially!

Any amount helps, but we've got some awesome incentives for those who can give more, beginning at $25. (That would be the "Bathtub Madonna" level of giving. I'd like to see a few Whovians donate some "Jammie Dodgers.")

You can get to our GoFundMe page by clicking here.

We love you, and are so grateful for your assistance to keep meeting you wherever you are.

St. Charity, St. Hope, and Coptic 21 - Pray for Us!