Thursday, July 30, 2015

Five Favorite NEW Recipes I am Making This Summer

This is only my second Five Favorites ever (linking up with Jenna at Call her Happy), and really it is just bunch of links to recipes I don't want to lose.

I should write them down on paper, because I still use cookbooks and my recipe book most of the time.

Making pesto with the baby.
Now that I have an 8 week old/am 8 weeks postpartum I am trying to cook again. Plus, I have a whole bunch of great foods coming out of my garden.

1. Chickpea Salad with Lemon, Parmesean, Basil, and Parsley
This is going to be a go-to Friday night meal for a long time, I think. So, yummy, so easy. And it would go great with Tabbouleh salad.

2. Tabbouleh
I love Tabbouleh; maybe it is my 1/8 Lebanese coming out. (I also love Falafel, and the garlic sauce at the Maronite church fish fry...) I finally made it. This is not the exact recipe I used, but close enough. You really just need a lot of parsley, and then the other stuff: burghul, garlic, lemon juice (lemony is essential), oil, tomatoes, and cucumber. Any ratio that you like will work.

3. Carrot Top Pesto...
I was determined to use my nice green luscious carrot tops. So, I made this pesto despite rumors that carrot tops might be poisonous? I think it is the same issue the presence of alkaloids in vegetables like raw spinach. So, basically, don't eat tons of it everyday, and you won't have a toxic build-up.

As for the pesto, the kids loved it because of the garlic and parmesan... M thought it was very similar to basil pesto, which I didn't quite agree with. Next time I might do half carrot, half basil. Or parsley.... or oregano. We have a ton of oregano.

Yes, that is a quart of cold press concentrate...
4. Cold Press Coffee
I can't believe that I did not try this sooner. So good. I also drink mine with milk and a little bit of simple sugar syrup sweetener departing from my normal black hot coffee. It almost tasted chocolatey.

5. Easy to Peel Hard Boiled Eggs
Not exactly new thing for us, but I wanted eggs that I could peel easily. This technique nailed it. I have been eating a ton of salads since T was born, because we had a lot of lettuce, and a hard boiled egg really tops them off nicely... especially on meatless days.

There you go... Happy Summer eating!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Interim State Conference in Idaho: AKA "Our Second Honeymoon"

Apparently M and I went on our "second honeymoon" last week, deemed so by our philosopher friend who happened to be at the same conference in Idaho with his family (we will call them "the P's"). Who wouldn't want their second honeymoon to take place with a newborn tagging along at a philosophy conference on a lovely lake in Idaho. 

What better topic to have in mind on a second honeymoon than that awkward "Interim State" between Death and the Resurrection of the body. Will that really be us existing without our bodies or do we need our bodies to be us? Or will we really us but just not as complete as we should be? 

If you want to know these answers, look for some published papers that will be accepted for publication in the next 12-24 months and published in about 4-6 years once the journals make it through their backlog. Well, maybe some journals will manage to publish them in about 3...

The river and mountains between Boise and McCall, Idaho.
 So, the story starts last Tuesday when, Aunt J and Uncle T arrived to spend the night. The next morning, after dropping M, baby T, and I at the airport, the girls and the relatives headed to the farm in Wisconsin for the duration of our trip.

We flew for the first time with any of our children this trip, and traveling with just a newborn (that happens to be our fourth newborn) is super easy. Plus, everyone is deceived into thinking your baby is well-behaved because he just acts like all other newborns: eat, poop, sleep, repeat. The worst part of it was nights, because my rocking chair did not fit on the airplane. I think that hotels should offer rocking chairs as well as roll-away cribs.

The mountain range around McCall.
 So back to Wednesday, we were whisked through security at the airport and enjoyed a quiet early lunch. The flight was easy breezy as T slept the whole way until descent. He did not seem to mind the pressure changes. We enjoyed an early dinner and a local brew while we awaited our shuttle to McCall. A conference participant was on our flight, so they embarked on the philosophical discussion even then. It lasted the 2.5 hour whole shuttle ride with other conference participants. We met a lot of really neat philosophers at this conference. You would like them... even if some are wrong in their views... ;)

By the time we got to the hotel, T had had enough, and fussed for the next 4 hours until he fell asleep for 3 hours, woke up and then slept 3 more hours. So, Thursday morning, we were somewhat rested. Though I survived the morning on three cups of hotel coffee.
Ponderosa State Park, McCall, Idaho.
Thursday morning (while the Interim State was discussed in depth at the hotel by the conference participants) involved going to a state park with other philosophy families and their children and getting lost in the woods with some members of the P family. It was a nice hike. The one and four year old were really into the Idaho squirrel.

This is before we knew we were lost.
Being a fan of Terence Malick films has forever ruined being in the woods for me in that I hear Jim Caviezel's voice in my head as I look up at trees saying things like, "all things shining" and "the glory".
It was a beautiful day and I really did experience the glory in those woods.
Once we were rescued, we made it back to the hotel and I went out to lunch with M and a neat family (the B's), napped with the baby in the hotel room while the conference went on, and then went out for a steak dinner with lots of participants and their families.
Friday morning was high 50s and windy, but we braved the beach and took in the view. When you are six weeks old on a day like this, you prefer to stay snuggled up to Mom.
The lake and the mountains were amazing. Once again we had lunch with the philosophers and rested in the hotel for the afternoon and watched the other families swim at the pool. Dinner involved fish and chips, two locally brewed beers, lively discussion on Purgatory, C.S. Lewis, and liturgy, and this amazing dessert! Since it is called a "grasshopper", I highly recommend it for any feast of St. John the Baptist, except for his beheading when you have to eat cabbage.
Taste the glory.
And here is the first photo ever taken of just M and his son, which is not really, because we have all of those strangers mulling around in the background. I could not get him to smile. Maybe he is contemplating being in the Interim State and is not happy about it.
This was about as romantic as our "Second Honeymoon" got: A chilly walk to the lake as the sun was setting. I was longing for a sweater, and the baby was about to hit "fussy hour."
Saturday, I leisurely read a book and drank coffee while the baby napped in his stroller and carseat. The conference ended at lunchtime, so we once again discussed philosophy over lunch (I mostly listened), and shuttled back to Boise for the night. Don't even ask how the night at the Airport Inn went. Let's just say we got coffee at the airport.
See, we went to the airport!

Here in this second photograph with "just" his son, M is kind of smiling, but the airport guy with the sticks is photo bombing.

We made it home safely to St. Paul, and Uncle T got us from the airport. The girls were happy and waiting for us.

So, ended our "second honeymoon." I hope I get to go to another conference sometime before the next seven years are up...

A few last thoughts:
-Philosophy conferences are fun! Free hotels and eating out every meal! Also, always lively discussions at every meal!
-It takes three disposable baby wipes to do the work that one cloth wipe can do.
-It is nice to be able to talk to other adults for 4 days without interruptions beyond that of a needy newborn.
-I missed my other kids by the end.
-Hotels really need to have rocking chairs in the rooms, not just wrought iron ones at the pool.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

How to Can Peaches With a Newborn in 10 Easy Steps

1. Send your husband to Hudson, WI to purchase the Georgia peaches that have been shipped in by Tree Ripe Citrus Co (a wonderful company that makes living in the north less bleak by bringing amazing fresh southern fruit, plus Michigan blueberries). Try to keep four kids aged six and under happy while he is gone.
2. When the bushel arrives on your dining room table, lay the peaches out in a single layer on cardboard to ripen for two days. Bounce the fussing baby in one arm while doing this.

3. Sleep in later than planned the day you want to can because the newborn kept you up for too many hours in the middle of the night. Attempt to set up for canning once everyone is dressed and fed. Tell the 6 and 4 year old to play with the 2 year old and stay out of the kitchen. Nurse the newborn.
4. Nurse the baby. Soothe the baby. Watch your husband: wash the rings, wash the lids, wash the jars, fill the canner and bring it to a boil, make light sugar syrup, wash and blanch peaches. Put sleeping baby into carrier and help.

5. Peel and pit a 1/4 bushel of peaches. Re-soothe baby who is fighting the sling but wants to be asleep.
6. Fill jars with peaches and hot syrup. Place screaming baby in bouncy seat while hurrying to get load in canner. Place lid and ring on each jar. Process in boiling water canner for 30 minutes.

7. Order pizza for lunch. Nurse newborn. Get the older children into their quiet times and the 2 year old down for nap.

8. Repeat steps 5-6 until peaches are all canned. Optional: After lunch lay sleeping baby in cradle swaddled for an afternoon nap.
9. Clean kitchen and happily greet friend who is bringing you dinner for that night.

10. Boil the peach peelings for 30 minutes to make peach juice. Leave out overnight. Ask your husband to help make peach jelly the next afternoon.

Stats: We canned 3/4 bushel of peaches into 21 quart jars and froze 4 quarts of slices. We made 11 pints of peach jelly with the juice. The last 1/4 bushel we have been eating for a week. Yum!

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Birth Story of the Masculine Child

Okay folks, for those of you who like this sort of thing, this is a BIRTH STORY. There will be discussion of blood, waters, measurements, contractions, and other birthy things. If that is not something you like, then feel free and please do, skip this one!


When does this story really start? Just like my last labor, I spent well over a week having regular mild contractions for most of my waking time. Some hours I did not, but most I did. It was no problem, just kind of annoying.

About 10 days before the birth on a Monday (and 8 before due date), I had my first, "this could be it" evening, with intensifying contractions. And once I called around for childcare back-up they stopped. That is the way of babies.

When I had my 39 week exam on Wednesday, I let the doctor check my dilation and I was 3 cm, which is not too bad a week before the due date. But the baby's head was not engaging. Dr. M gave me some exercises to help the head descend, but no matter how often I did them, head stayed up. After the exam, I had another several hours of increasingly painful contractions, and reluctantly sent M to teach the first of his summer night classes. He was teaching for six weeks on Mondays and Wednesdays, and was gone from 4-10pm both of those nights. My mother's helper was coming that night to feel out the routine before baby came, so I figured if it was labor, at least she would be here already. But contractions stopped again after about 3 hours.

Again on Friday, I had 3 more hours of painful contractions, which stopped as soon as we sat down to wait them out through a movie. And during all of these episodes of pre-labor, I would text my parents and ask them to pray that the contractions would stop if this was not labor or be very clearly labor if it was. So, we got what we prayed for each time.

Things settled down, and I even made it past my Tuesday due date to my 40 week appointment on Wednesday. I had not dilated beyond 3 cm AT ALL, and Dr. M could not even feel the baby's head. She got worried that the baby had flipped. So, she brought me into the ultrasound room to find the baby's head, and when she could not find it (I guess it is hard to find a head on a huge overdue baby), I started mentally preparing for a C-section delivery.

After a few more minutes of searching, she called in the tech, who, much to my relief, found the head down in my pelvis right away.

I then questioned Dr. M about 10 times to be assured that even though there was no head engagement whatsoever, I could still go into labor whenever. She explained that when it is not your first delivery, engagement sometimes does not happen until active labor anyway, and for this baby that ended up being the case.

Oh and the other funny thing about that appointment was that I had gained 4 pounds in one week, and everyone said that I was still "all baby." I blame the donuts I consumed that week and the "due date" cake I baked for the baby. I figured that if he was not going to come on the due date, then I could at least have chocolate cake. I started to wonder if I was going to have a huge baby.

That evening was another Wednesday night with M teaching, but I decided to let my mother's helper have a night off. I just had a feeling that it was important for me to have a night with just me and the girls. We had a nice evening, and I savored those last few hours with them and no baby. I guess I had a feeling things might happen soon.

My parents have started calling it the Spencer Way and my close friend in St. Paul does not understand how we do it, but we work hard to have morning to pre-dinner time labors. We also really wanted the baby to come on a Thursday, so that M would not have to teach for as a long as possible (until Monday).

And according to our plans, Thursday morning, right at 7:00 am, my contractions started. I am not joking. After breakfast and coffee M and I decided to do some of my house cleaning chores (since it is summer he does not go to campus everyday and had been helping me with chores for a couple of weeks anyway). He agreed to vacuum, if I would do the dusting. At this point, I figured, it was nothing to call anyone about. Though the contractions were not slowing down.

At 9:00 am I went on Facebook to discover the above mentioned St. Paul friend had given birth to her son at 4:30 am several days before her due date. I told M the news, and said, "I better be in labor, because it would not be fair!" Plus, we had been joking for months that we were going to have our babies on the same day and at the same hospital.

I decided to take a shower. Things kept on happening and when I got out, we decided to call Aunt J two hours away in Wisconsin to see if she was available to come to town to be with the girls. She had a wide open day and could come whenever we were *sure* it was labor. I was still only 3 hours into contractions, so I did not want to make the call yet. I wanted to have at least 4 hours before I made the call. I decided to work on dusting, but kept on having to sit down during contractions. They were getting bigger!

Around 11am (after 4 hours of labor), we started looking to see who locally could watch the children until Aunt J arrived. We got a hold of my mother's helper, but she was going to be busy from 11:45am-12:45pm (at Mass) unless we decided we needed her before that. I was not sure what to do, but thought that maybe I could wait until then.

I decided to call my mom and ask her to pray, but she proved to be unreachable (turns out she was somewhere without cell phone reception the day after my due date... silly mom). So, we had to pray alone for clear signs of labor.

Then, as what seemed an answer to my prayers and uncertainty, at 11:30 am, I had a HUGE, ACTIVE LABOR contraction, and I said to M, "This really is it." We need to go to the hospital. I can't remember if the dusting got finished. Maybe M did the downstairs? I got most of the upstairs before this happened.

That huge contraction set us in motion. M called the mother's helper to have her come over, and called Aunt J who said that she could get here by 3pm. I looked for the hospital number to call, because, I had forgotten until that moment that we had to call first. There I was on my knees leaning over the foot of my bed during contractions, searching frantically on the iPad for the Maternity Care number. We found it eventually, and I called, explained the situation, and they said to come in.

We gathered our things, M made the girls lunch, I sat in my favorite glider rocking chair, calling people to let them know what was going on. Still no Mom, Dad, or my middle sister or brother. My oldest sister answered, and got excited, and promised to pray. The mother's helper arrived, we said goodbye to the girls, and we left.

We drove to the hospital. They had not entirely fixed all of the winter potholes and bumps in the roads. Do you know what it is like to be almost in transition and go over a pothole? Not fun. But I had a short list of really important intentions I focused on during my labor, and offering up the pain for a friend in a desperate and awful family situation made it a grace-filled labor for me and later I learned a grace-filled day for her.

I did experience some relief on the way. We were almost there and a huge contraction was coming on, and right before us the light changed to red. I had a nice still 60 seconds to ride out that massive contraction while we waited for the light to change.

We decided to park in the ER lot this time. Last labor I walked from the main garage. I told M that I did not think that I could walk through these. So, we went into the same ER and waiting room we last entered when I was bleeding too much after the loss of JP at 9 weeks over a year ago. It brought back a few memories. We sat in different seats and talked about that day. And we were thankful and said a prayer for this happier circumstance.

After about five minutes, a nurse came down to wheel me to Maternity Care. I suppose I could have walked, but why walk when you are 9+ months pregnant and are offered a wheel chair?We discussed with the generous wheel chair pusher how we used to live in Buffalo, NY and all the snow they had gotten there last winter.

I got to stand at the counter when we arrived in Maternity Care and hand over things like my ID and insurance card. We even mentioned the names of our friends who had a baby at the same hospital that morning, and they said, "Oh yeah, they are here!"

So, we finally got to our room around 1 pm, and I was still contracting. I did the whole sample giving thing, and tried to put on the gown. But honestly, those elbow-length thick sheet-like sleeves really bother me, and there is no way I can relax properly with them on.

I decided to keep on my own shirt and tied the gown around my waist as a skirt. I think it was pretty brilliant. I could maintain my modesty a bit longer (not walk around bottomless), and not bleed all over my own clothes. It was a win-win situation.

Anyway, they did a bit of monitoring and finally checked me, to announce that I was a FULL 7 CM already. I did not even feel like I was in transition. Labor had been intense, but not that bad up to that point.

They called Dr. M, and she decided to come right away. I was only a bit worried that I was not going to get my antibiotics in before delivery. If I got them in time I could go home 24 hours after delivery, but if I did not, I would have to stay TWO nights. I sleep badly everywhere but my own bed, so getting home ASAP was at the top of my list, besides having a healthy delivery and baby.

They got the IV going around 2pm, and Dr. M showed up sometime around then. She then got me to do all sorts of things to get the baby's head to descend. I spent awhile kneeling on the bed over the birthing ball rocking my hips during contractions, and discovered that counter-pressure on my back relieved the pain of TRANSITION contractions almost entirely.

To make up for the ease of those contractions, she had me lay on my back during four contractions and stretched my bent leg across my belly so that I could not breathe. The point of these was to mimic a lunge to get the head DOWN.

Thankfully we switched back to the ball on the bed after that. We also tried a peanut shaped ball which also helped me relax on my side but open things up for the head to move downward. During this time (maybe between 2:30 and 3) I checked out at 9 cm.

So, there I was at 9 cm, water intact, baby's head still not engaged, and started to experience the urge to push. We hung out like that for awhile. I decided to get into an upright pushing position, but my pushes were ineffective. We made it past 3pm and my antibiotics were done. We made it to 3:15, and my water was still hanging out intact. I knew that if my water would break, I would be really pushing the baby out.

To tell you the truth, the contractions were doing nothing at this point, and I was getting a bit bored of being stuck in limbo between transition and pushing. Though maybe it was the best thing for me and the baby to have a calm before the pushing.

Finally at 3:30, I asked, "If we break my water, do you think the baby will be coming out?" Dr. M's face lit up, and she said, "Yes." I confirmed with M whether he was okay with it, and he was. So, I asked her to break the water.

Then all of a sudden, my bed was being raised, the bottom was taken off, and they set up a bag off the end of the bed to catch the water. So, she went to break my water, which was fascinating for me, because I have never had it done before. The other three labors, it broke on its own at 9 cm. She used a dull plastic rod, but my membranes proved resistant to breaking. She made it through one layer, and then told me: "You have membranes of steel!"

Looking back, it is funny to me that she said this, because I spent the last three weeks of pregnancy wondering at least once a day if my water had broken and was trickling, when in fact, my membranes never wanted to break on their own.

So, anyway, the water broke and gushed, and the baby's head was right there. She checked my dilation again, and this time I was ready, but had a slight cervical lip (which is common after multiple deliveries), which she was going to manually help the baby around. So, I began to really push.

The nurse was monitoring the heart-rate holding the doppler with her hand on the left side of my belly. After the first couple of pushes, the heartbeat switched to the right side. The baby had turned, and finally the head was engaging.

Then came the hardest part, or so I thought. I started pushing the head out, it took a couple more pushes and the head was out, but the body did not slip out (like it always had in the past).

Dr. M told me I had to push the shoulders out, which were wider then the head...

I feel like these words are not properly describing the intensity of the situation. The baby's head was 15 inches around when I pushed it out, and then broad shoulders, and then finally I had to push even more to get the baby's body out that was just as wide as the head...

It took me 25 minutes from water breaking to getting that baby out (with baby #3 it took 5 minutes, with the first two it took 10 minutes each). It was a long, super uncomfortable 25 minutes, and Dr. M even had to help pull the baby.

At 3:54pm (right before the cafeteria opened for dinner orders and almost 9 hours from the first contraction), the baby was out. A true Spencer.

"What is it, Dad?" Dr. M asked.
"A boy!"
And that I could not believe, "Really?!"

A boy! But it felt so right. "He is a BIG boy!" they all said.

And he was snuggling on my chest, my big 10 lb, 3 oz, boy was born. The cord pulsed awhile, and M got to cut it when it was done. I did no even care about the massive placenta coming out next, which was "as big as some babies". I required some stitching up, and once that was done, baby T nursed like a champ. And I got my cranberry juice and ginger ale "cocktail", which I remembered so fondly after F was born, and asked for specifically.

M called Aunt J, and she put her phone on speaker for the girls. "You have a brother!" he told them, and they responded with squeals and screams. We then called everyone else, and M posted this blurry iPad picture of me breastfeeding to Facebook.

And what made things even better, is that I did not hemorrhage this time. I always hemorrhage. I wonder if it was the hour I spent at 9 cm with my water intact, and the longer pushing phase that helped. Apparently, when you don't lose 1.5 liters of blood after delivery you feel about 1000x better afterwards than when you do. They didn't even do the next morning hemoglobin check.

The main concern was that T was so big, they were worried that he was going to have his blood sugar drop too low. The poor baby had his heel stuck before and after nursing for the first 12 hours of life, but he was fine and my milk came in while we were still in the hospital.

After the medical staff left us all alone, M realized that he was hungry. He had missed lunch, so had I, but I don't eat when I am in transition. We decided to have him go home and see the kids and help Aunt J for a hour and get some dinner. T was sleeping and eating fine, and I ordered my dinner and sat to wait for it.

I messaged my friend, to tell her I was down the hall from her, and she, her baby, and her husband came for a visit. We chatted a few minutes until the nurse came and fumbled with something hooked up to me still.

Nursing stupor.
So, we spent one bad night in the hospital, and a restful morning and afternoon. Aunt J brought the girls for a visit in the morning, and they were all really happy and took turns holding T. The lactation consultant came, and saw that I was fine... fourth babies and an experienced mom make their jobs easy!

I even got to receive Communion in the afternoon. And at 6pm on Friday, we checked out and went home.
Hey big guy,  newborns are not supposed to be this big in their carseats!
It was good to go home. The girls were really happy to have T and I there. They all got out their dolls and pretended to nurse them while I fed T. It was pretty funny.

And that is it. I think I covered everything...

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Litany for the Feast of Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin

Happy Feast of Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin! Thank you for joining in the novena. It has been an honor to pray with and for you. I would love to hear about any great graces received through the novena!

Here is the litany for the feast day!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Day Nine, July 11: Novena to Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin for Marriages

Louis Martin

Welcome to Day Nine of the Novena to Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin for Marriages.

Day Nine, The House of the Father. Click on over for the prayers.

We are so glad that you have joined us! Please come back tomorrow for the litany.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Seven Quick Takes: Friday, July 10

1. Tomorrow is the last day of the novena to Bl. Louis and Zelie Martin! I will post a link to a litany for their feast day. I had forgotten since last year how powerful and realistic the daily reflections are on marriage and family life. When these two are canonized, they are going to be an even greater example for marriage and family life.

2. I had a birthday since we last did quick takes, with my traditional chocolate peanut butter cup pie. Also, here is the only photo of me and T since I was in the hospital.
 3. My sister asked for more baby photos. I have not really been able to take many photos of the baby. Here is one from last week.
 But today I got his FIVE WEEK old self dressed in his first 3-6 month outfit (he is in a cloth diaper), fed him, and he was happy. I set him down to snap a photo and he did this. This is why we don't have lots of photos of the baby.
 4. Garden update! Our lettuce harvest was massive and delicious. There are still a few plants that have not bolted. And I am trying a second planting in a shadier spot. The cold crops don't like the heat of the summer. The peas are still going strong. The chard has been delicious. The carrots, cabbages, and leeks are still coming.
 Here is the first of our cucumbers.
 5. Other Garden: These nine tomato plants (in front of the lilac bush) are covered in grape, cherry, or yellow pear tomatoes waiting to ripen. We are going to have tomatoes coming out of our ears soon. The pepper plants are not really growing, so we will see. The herbs are doing well. And those are potato plants in the far back.
6. We did some peach canning yesterday, but I am going to give it its own post next week, because a days worth of canning deserves its own post. For real.
7. In case you missed it, M and I published our second article for ChurchPOP reviewing the films on the Vatican Film List. This time was the Religion category.

I am linking up with Bonnie at "A Knotted Life" who is hosting this week for Kelly.

Day Eight, July 10: Novena to Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin for Marriages

Zélie Martin

Welcome to Day Eight of the Novena to Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin for Marriages.

Day Eight, The House of the Father. Click on over for the prayers.

We are so glad that you have joined us!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Day Seven, July 9: Novena to Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin for Marriages

Cathedral in Lisieux. Photo by Katie Boos.

Welcome to Day Seven of the Novena to Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin for Marriages.

Day Seven, Abandonment in Hope. Click on over for the prayers.

We are so glad that you have joined us!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Day Six, July 8: Novena to Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin for Marriages

Les Buissonnets, The Martin family house in Lisieu. Photo by Kristi Tyler.

Welcome to Day Six of the Novena to Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin for Marriages.

Day Six, The Night, The Desert, The Purification. Click on over for the prayers.

We are so glad that you have joined us!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Day Five, July 7: Novena to Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin for Marriages

Statue of Bl. Louis and St. Therese. Photo by Katie Boos.

Welcome to Day Five of the Novena to Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin for Marriages.

Day Five, Beyond All Suffering. Click on over for the prayers.

We are so glad that you have joined us!

*Please note that the prayers were written before their canonization, so feel free to substitute and ending like this one:

Deign to grant, O Lord, the graces that I seek,
through the intercession of the Saints Louis and Zélie Martin,
who are now recognized as models for today's families for the entire Church. Amen.

Monday, July 6, 2015

This Season in Girls (for the last time)

I was going to write this post the day that T was born. I said to M the night before, if I am not in labor by naptime tomorrow, I am going to write my last "This Season in Girls." My memories of the girls right before T was born are not as fresh now, so I will go through what I can remember and talk about them as big sisters.
My big six year old G. I have heard that seven is a super helpful age, and that ten is the best, but six is better and more capable than four or five for sure. You do things like unload everything at your level from the dishwasher, undiaper and dress your two year old sister, clear the table after meals, clean up the mess after play dough. While official school time is not your favorite, you love to learn by talking casually about subjects. You remember things that you hear. You are reading more and more without being asked, but don't like to read out loud to your sisters where we can hear you. One day you will get the hang of your two-wheeler bike, and when you try without help, you succeed! We are discovering that you prefer to learn on your own. The baby is interesting to you sometimes, but mostly you want to play with your sisters. Your favorite things to to these days are play princess and fairy games with the play scarves, dance to the Sound of Music soundtrack, and look at books. Some days you want to be a mom when you grow up, but other days you tell us that you feel like you are supposed to be a nun.

4.5 year old L, you are the only one unfazed by a new baby in the house. The middle child is overlooked anyway, right? You have continued to sing to him the lullabies you would sing to my growing belly. You have your big sister G and your little sister F to keep you happy, and when they are busy, you happily get out paper, glue, and scissors and make dolls (though cleaning it all up is a different story). You probably have it in you to be a gymnast or dancer or perhaps a monkey. You will climb any and everything, but we would really prefer if you don't dare your sister to walk across the top of the swing set or attempt it yourself in the style of Anne of Green Gables on the kitchen roof. You also love the Sound of Music soundtrack, and have been asking to have The Chronicles of Naria reread to you. You switch between wanting to be an artist and to join the Pink Sisters in St. Louis (because they get to wear pink EVERYDAY).

2.5 year old F, who is this baby that has supplanted you? The only real perk to it all is that Mom sits for a lot of the day and is available to read picture book upon picture book to you. You finally transitioned to sleeping in your sisters' bedroom, but since your brother came you are having trouble falling asleep again. One day this will all be normal for you, I promise. Being the third girl with a little brother is actually a lot of fun (I know from experience!). You are growing and talking so much. If we are not specific in what we tell you, you get anxious. You don't just want to be told to wait, you want to know when your waiting will end. You want to be called by the correct first name, not your sisters. And you have that two year old habit of contradicting. You are happy to play with your sisters when they include you in their games, but also want to follow Mom around. We are thankful your potty training has not been set back by the baby, but it is more urgent to help you on the potty than changing a diaper would have been, which makes things tricky sometimes. You are sweet with the baby when you pay attention to him, and like to walk around with your "baby" in your fist and buckle him into various baby seats. Your favorite game is "Go to Target, Go to Aldi, Go to Sam's Club." You will be more settled once our daily routine is reestablished... routine is your thing.

And now I need a new title for this style post for next time. :)

Day Four, July 6: Novena to Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin for Marriages

Rue Saint-Blaise's house at Alençon : The family home and Thérèse’s birthplace. Photo by

Welcome to Day Four of the Novena to Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin for Marriages.

Day Four, Breakup of the Family. Click on over for the prayers.

We are so glad that you have joined us!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Day Three, July 5: Novena to Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin for Marriages

Our Lady of Assumption Basilica in Alençon, Orne where the Martin's were married. Photo by Pierre-Yves Emile.
Welcome to Day Three of the Novena to Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin for Marriages.

Day Three, the Test and the Sickness. Click on over for the prayers.

We are so glad that you have joined us!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Laura Ingalls Wilder on Freedom: God is America's King

The South Dakota Prairie. Photo by J. Stephen Conn. In the Creative Commons.
Last summer on the way home from our long summer road trip, we heard in Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder about an Independence Day celebration out on the prairie in Dakota Territory. The whole town gathered together for horse racing, but first a citizen gave a speech and then recited the Declaration of Independence. Laura, of course, already knew the Declaration, but listened with great attention taking to heart the founding of her country. After the Declaration, this is how she understood its meaning:
“Then Pa began to sing. All at once everyone was singing:
‘My country, ’tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing. …
‘Long may our land be bright
With Freedom’s holy light,
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God, our King!’
The crowd was scattering away then, but Laura stood stock still. Suddenly she had a completely new thought. The Declaration and the song came together in her mind, and she thought: God is America’s king.
She thought: Americans won’t obey any king on earth. Americans are free. That means they have to obey their own consciences. No king bosses Pa; he has to boss himself. Why (she thought), when I am a little older, Pa and Ma will stop telling me what to do, and there isn’t anyone else who has a right to give me orders. I will have to make myself be good.
Her whole mind seemed to be lighted up by that thought. This is what it means to be free. It means, you have to be good. “Our father’s God, to Thee, author of liberty…” The laws of Nature and of Nature’s God endow you with a right to life and liberty. Then you have to keep the laws of God, for God’s law is the only thing that gives you a right to be free.”
The book was published in 1941, but gave an account of the mind of a 15 year old girl in 1881. And the ideas are true. This is the kind of literature we all need to read, to remind us of the founding of our country, but also that our freedom is God-given. When we do not keep God’s laws, we are no longer free. We must remind our country that freedom is contained within God’s law, and when we do not live within His law, we are no longer free.

Day Two, July 4: Novena to Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin for Marriages

Welcome to Day Two of the Novena to Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin for Marriages.

Day Two, Fruits of the Spirit. Click on over for the prayers. We are so glad that you are joining us!

*Please note that the prayers were written before their canonization, so feel free to substitute and ending like this one:

Deign to grant, O Lord, the graces that I seek,
through the intercession of the Saints Louis and Zelie Martin,
who are now recognized as models for today's families for the entire Church. Amen.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Day One, July 3: Novena to Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin for Marriages
 Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin

Welcome to the first day of the novena. I will be linking to the novena from here each day. If you have not yet read it, here is an introduction to the novena.

And here are the prayers for Day One, The Meeting, God's Time.
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