Monday, January 25, 2016

7 Quick Takes--Home Again, Home Again

I'm linking up with Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum a few days late for Seven Quick Takes.

1. We have been home for two weeks now, after three weeks on the road.
The trip was great we clocked 2200 miles going from Minnesota to Indiana to Michigan to Ohio to Missouri and back home to Minnesota. The girls were great in the car as usual, and T was awesome for his first long trip.

2. The only time he was inconsolable by his favorite music, Dave Brubeck was during the last 4 hours of our trip from the middle of Iowa to home.

M got sick of listening to it, but it was a lot better than other music a baby could be obsessed with. Ask anyone who road in the back seat with the kids. It literally would put a tired T to sleep within five minutes of the music starting.

3. We saw people of all four sides of our extended families,
and we loved every daytime minute of it. The girls had lots of fun with cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents. The nights were not so great. I discovered that T needs a pitch black room to sleep well. So we went back to bad sleep for the trip. It was made up for by good visiting time with our relatives, many of whom we had not seen since last Christmas. Though by the end we decided that we are done with three week road trips. They will be shorter in the future.

4. It is amazing how three weeks on the road makes daily life at home so much better. I am loving things like sitting in bed reading while the baby sleeps peacefully in his own room. I am loving my quiet afternoons to read, write, waste time online. I even managed to do five school days plus all the housework last week. Not too shabby.

5. We are still celebrating the Christmas season here, the Season after Epiphany to be exact, until Candlemas (Feb. 2). But Sunday was really liturgically strange, because it was Septuagesima sunday, still the season after Epiphany, and at St. Agnes we celebrated the Feast of St. Agnes which was actually last Thursday. Isn't being Catholic fun?

6. Because no blog post is complete without a picture, and I have not really been taking pictures lately, I am sharing this one from Instagram.
This guy has rolled to his belly, turned, and belly scooted about 5 feet across the floor since I started writing this post. I am realizing that my life is about to be a bit crazier with a mobile little boy.
Linking up
7. In case you don't follow my blog on Facebook, I wanted to share here my newest article for ChurchPOP: 12 Things St. Zelie Martin Taught Me About Sainthood as a Mother

Friday, January 15, 2016

Books I Read in 2015

This post is inspired by Haley at Carrots for Michaelmas who reviewed her reading goals from the beginning of last year and let us know how she did. I don't really set reading goals; I just read whatever I feel like reading, whatever M recommends, or whatever I think I should read. Reading is my way of bettering myself and I usually do it through literature and spiritual works.
These are the books I reread, read for the first time, and listened to while walking or running on the treadmill in 2015


Every pregnancy I have read the complete (completed) novels of Jane Austen.
  • Sense and Sensibility
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Mansfield Park
  • Emma
  • Northanger Abbey
I love them all, and I love her insight into humanity and her emphasis on virtue in her ethics. This time around it occurred to me that I really don't like the character of Emma Wodehouse (Emma) and that I related most to Fanny Price (Mansfield Park). I probably should elaborate on that insight elsewhere so as to not make this post take forever.

The Lord of the Rings
by J.R.R. Tolkien--I read this every couple of years as the whim comes, or pregnancy fatigue or new-baby fatigue requires the old and familiar reading. You know how that goes.

Father Elijah by Michael O'Brien--I read this in anticipation of the release of the sequel, which I think is out by now. I suppose we (M and I) should read the sequel.

Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales--My go-to spiritual reading whenever I need a reexamination of myself, cleansing of my bad habits, and fortification of my good ones.

The Divine Comedy by Dante--For some reason I thought that this would be good postpartum nursing reading. It was not, so I gave up in the 5th circle of Hell. I suppose I should finish eventually, since Hell is a dreary sort of place to stop off in.

New reads. These were ones I read for the first time in the order that I read them.

Elisabeth Leseur: Selected Writings--I started this at the beginning of the year, but never finished. She was a very intriguing and relatable modern women of the 19th and 20th century. She is a Servant of God. I liked her a lot, but I put the book down when my Christmas present arrived in late winter.

Pioneer Girl
by Laura Ingalls Wilder--M got this for me for Christmas. This is a beautiful book to look at, and very interesting to read. It was more of a historical look at Laura's life, with lots of informative footnotes. It was very good, but I think I like her novels better. I also wish that she wrote more of her adult life beyond the babyhood of her children.
Consoling the Heart of Jesus by Fr. Michael Gaitley--This was recommended to me by a friend, and I read it during Lent. I found it helpful and good for praying with.

The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky--M read this in the spring, and asked me to read it. Personally, I found it to be more accessible than The Brother's Karamazov and Crime and Punishment largely because there is more conversation than interior dialogue which can make Dostoevsky extremely weighty. It also helped that M gave me all of Hans urs von Balthasars commentary on this book in his Glory of the Lord volumes. The Idiot/the clown is basically on important figure in Christian literature; he is able to be like the little children. Just read the book.

Doctor Thorne by Anthony Trollope--Trollope is great for what I consider "light" reading, but I am told that my light reading is not light for most people. He is one of those writers with conservative sensibilities that subtly mocks every type of person he writes about.

Martin Chuzzlewhit by Charles Dickens--I started reading this a couple of years ago because I needed a good novel and it was on the shelf. It is about as Dickens as you can get with absurd /memorable characters and way too much description. I finished it because we watched a BBC miniseries after T was born. It has about the evilest villain I have come across in Dickens, but you have to be up for knowing when to skim Dickensy verbosity if you want to get through it.

Call to a Deeper Love Letters of Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin--This is one of my favorite reads this year. I probably should be reading her letters daily for the rest of my life. Reading St. Zelie makes me a better mom and wife; it is consoling, inspiring, and so very real. And St. Louis Martin is the perfect compliment to her, though the book has over 200 of her letters and about 16 of his. If you are trying to be a holy parent and spouse, I can't recommend this enough.

In this House of Brede by Rumer Godden--This after the saintly letters was also amazing. I loved the rhythm of monastic life portrayed in this book. For me, it was also spiritually edifying.

Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh--Satire. Full of it, and upper class mockery. But funny. Waugh is pretty great.
Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry--I finished this in 2016. I read A Place on Earth in 2014 in which we hear of Hannah's first husband. This one is a beautiful looking back at her life and how the world has changed.

Audio Read. These are whatever I can get from the library app for free, and mostly classics/good literature that I have failed to read in my life so far. For me treadmill reading is free reading time, because I am going to exercise anyway:

War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells--I started this in middle school and never finished. An invasion of Martians is quite frightening to think about, isn't it? And I enjoyed it, though some might think it slow.
Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson--I should have been reading Stevenson instead of Babysitter's club, my whole youth. A high-quality, youth oriented story.

Little Men by Louisa May Alcott--Once again, filling in the gaps of my failure to read good books in my youth. Gotta love Alcott even if she is a bit moralistic.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe--I kept waiting for things to go really badly, and I suppose that they did. It just was not as crushing to me as a Thomas Hardy novel.

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton--A good book, which turned out differently than I expected.

Howards End by E.M. Forster--Recommended by a friend, and I enjoyed it a lot. 

Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift--He is not exactly the most diverting while trying to get past 2 mile runs in my getting back in shape postpartum exercising. I know I am missing so many political references. Honestly, I prefer Waugh satire to Swift satire.

Any good books you loved in 2015?

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Things I Learn From my Mother

If you have ever met my mother, then you know how beautiful of a person she is in all aspects. Well today we had our "we are in the same city, so lets go out to brunch" outing, and I came home to be reminded that I wrote the devotion for Blessed is She today.

I spent a long while reflecting on today's readings when I wrote the devotion, and today we made it to daily Mass in the Extraordinary Form. Mom came with us to Mass, and at brunch we had a lovely, blessed conversation about God's movements in our lives. (See, awesome lady.)

And then I reread my devotion, forgetting what I actually wrote about, to see that it is all about my Mom teaching me to pray for all my little needs.

If you want to hear more about her, head on over to Blessed is She for today's Mass readings and devotion.

Monday, January 4, 2016

It's Still Not Too Late to Say Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from the Spencers to you all.

After being sick for all of Advent, (week one: a cold, week two: I had strep throat, week three: 24 hour stomach bug made the rounds), we began our tour of the Midwest to see extended family.
 Christmas was so busy we barely remembered to get a picture of the children. We went to Christmas Eve Mass, so we completely forgot to do a dressed up family shot. Oh well. Here is our Christmas card photo taken in November.

It has been a nice healthy trip for us and we have really enjoyed visiting with our families. The children have been great in the car, and I am working on new writing projects in my head.

I plan to be back in regular posting next week. Have a blessed season after Epiphany!
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