Saturday, April 29, 2017

NCRegister: How NFP Makes My Life Like a Jane Austen Novel

The fact that my husband was making just over the equivalent of ten thousand (modern British pounds) a year when we got married is not the real reason that Natural Family Planning makes my life like a Jane Austen novel. Neither is the fact that I have several very silly sisters, nor the fact that I am not going to be left a very large inheritance. The main characters in Austen’s novel and Catholic couples practicing NFP face the world in a similar way. Both combat the worldly temptations to self-love and self-indulgence by recognizing a higher good. They know that one’s every act forms one’s character, and that to be fully human one must act according to reason through the pursuit of virtue and the resistance of superficial worldly charm.

If you have ever read a novel or two by Jane Austen (I allow myself the pleasure of all six whenever I am pregnant), you may have noticed that in each of her novels, a heroine is pursued by a charming man of the world...

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register...

Monday, April 24, 2017

Blessed is She: When We Pray

I am over at Blessed is She today reflecting on the Mass readings for today:


In today’s reading from Acts, Saints Peter and John, just released after being arrested for healing a lame man, were threatened by the chief priests and the elders and told to not preach about Christ anymore. Rather than comply with the wishes of their enemies, they prayed for courage to continue to spread the Gospel, and the Holy Spirit responded by filling them with boldness. They went on to begin the evangelization of the whole world.

God likes to help us in response to prayer; He wants us to get to know Him, to talk to Him. When we spend time with Him, we grow to love Him more...

Read the daily readings and the rest at Blessed is She...

Saturday, April 22, 2017

NCRegister: The Deep Joy of Easter

We cannot expect to enter into Eastertide with a blissful forgetfulness of suffering. We cannot have Easter without bearing our own crosses, “For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17). The fact of the matter is that Lent did not rid me of all of my faults. God continues to teach me humility and my complete need of his aid. Easter has come. I still lose my temper with my kids. I still misuse my time. I still have to stifle uncharitable thoughts all the daylong. And I am still hopeless without his grace. Yet, he promises me that these afflictions are preparing me for a glory that I cannot even grasp. The joyful consolations he offers me in prayer are a mere drop compared to the glory, the joy that awaits...

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register...

Friday, April 14, 2017

ChurchPOP: Your Definitive Triduum Chant Playlist

The three liturgies of the Paschal Triduum are full of beautiful, theologically rich chants most of which we only get to hear once a year in the context of the liturgy.

If you are like me, you never get to savor the depths of them while you are actually at Church. Even if I were not reminding that child to be quiet and this child to be still or wrestling with my toddler in back, the chants go by before I can plunge their depths.

Because of this I started listening to the chants for Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday at home. Doing this helps me prepare my heart for the Triduum liturgies and give my children something to notice and enter into during the long days of the Triduum where the liturgical year slows down to the pace of the actual events of Christ’s life. They keep our home prayerful and peaceful during the busy Easter preparations.

So, without further ado, I present you chants and hymns from the Triduum...

Head on over to ChurchPOP for the list!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

My 7 Rules for Myself for Outings with the Kids

 I have a good friend who goes on what it seems like four outings a day with her kids ranging from play dates, to grocery shopping, to a museum, and finishing it off with the arboretum or zoo. We have her over for a morning play date and she has been somewhere already. She heads out for a big grocery shopping trip when she leaves our house. And she seems to draw energy from this--it is fun for her!

I think I must be her opposite. One outing, about 90 minutes long is fun for me, any longer than that, and things start to fall apart. But as it happens the outing are always longer than 90 minutes. Most place we go to it takes a full 30 minutes to get from the driveway, park the car, and get into the door of whatever place (unless it is the grocery store...). Yet, I have learned over the years, if I am going to take four kids on a long outing parenting solo, be it a friend's house, museum, zoo, home school co-op, orchestra, well-visit with the pediatrician, OB visit (when I am pregnant) etc. I have to do several things to keep myself sane.

Here are my seven rules for myself when I go on outings with kids, and I am linking them up with Kelly's seven quick takes!

1. The outing is the only special thing we do that day. The rest of the day is normal life. We get up at the same time, eat breakfast at the same time, do our outing, come home fed or before lunch, I coerce the people into their naps and quiet times, and then just savor the afternoon quiet...and then start dinner too late because I am wiped.

2. Bring the right stroller or baby carrier. The doctor's office requires an umbrella stroller for strapping the toddler into when necessary. The zoo requires the double stroller so that the toddler can't get away and for a tired kid to ride when necessary. The art museum does best with a single jogger because they won't let us wear backpack diaper bags on our backs and it is easy to maneuver. The wrong stroller ruins the outing. Orchestra is no stroller, just baby in a carrier as there is no room for strollers.

3. Make them eat a snack in the car on the way and bring water bottles. Full bellies=happy kids. Having kids fed before going out solves about 90% of mood problems (I may have just made up that stat). Plus, the other day we went to the zoo, and it was a lot easier to breeze by the refreshment stand with kids who had just had snacks and had full water bottles that way. Not that we ever buy concession food anyway, but they always want to ask.

4. Pack a lunch that they can eat in the car or before we go home. If I know we are going to get home after 12pm, a packed lunch is a necessity. I was not sure if the lunch on our zoo outing was going to be eaten at the zoo or in the care on the way home, but I knew that when we got home, there would be no need to feed anyone. We ended up eating at the zoo. We ate it walking from one exhibit to another, and the four year old and toddler ate in the stroller. You know that a stroller is basically meant to be a high chair with wheels, right?

5. Plan ahead and meet a friend there. My real pleasure in outings, besides going places with my perfectly mannered children (ha!), is hanging out with another mom and family that we love. That way the kids get to see friends (home school problems) and I get to see one as well. It is also helpful if the little people need help in the bathroom. We can tag-team guarding strollers or help reign in a wandering child. The other day at the zoo, I lost a child and my friend stayed with the other ones while I found my lost, sobbing child. It is all about the solidarity.

6. Do not push myself or the kids by staying too long and get home by quiet time. When I was leaving my weekend long silent retreat a last month, I called the professor to let him know I was on my way home. He mentioned that the toddler had only been napping about an hour; it was five o'clock. Then he explained that their outing had gone from about 11am-3:30pm, and I was like, "Are you insane?!" My day revolves around my 2-4pm quiet time, and I do not miss it except for very few reasons. He, however, seemed to enjoy breaking all of my rules while I was away. I, on the other hand, need the afternoon quiet to recharge for the rest of the day. I often get home later than I plan too, but we always make sure there is some time for rest.

The other factor here is the kids. People at certain ages and with certain introverted personalities tend to completely lose it after a certain amount of time out of the house, whether or not his or her stomach is full. We call it "turning into a pumpkin." Pumpkins tend to lose the ability to control emotions as they have no reason, and they don't listen to anything you say as they have no ears. I try to avoid my kids turning into pumpkins. The other day it happened because a pumpkin fell while running. It was all chaos with her after that...

7. Plan an easy dinner for that night. Who wants to cook an elaborate meal after being out and about all morning? Dinner has to be quick, and I will probably not start cooking it until 4:30pm, which is the time my conscience really makes me get off the computer or stop reading and get going on feeding people...

Note: The library is an automatic free outing for which I break all of these rules for. 1) It is like 5 minutes away. 2) We do it in like 30 minutes, and the toddler always comes home soaked because someone thought it would be a good idea to put a toddler height water fountain in the kids section of the library... why??!?!?

Thursday, April 6, 2017

NCRegister: We Veil Our Statues and Unveil Our Hearts at Passiontide

Traditionally known as Passiontide, the last fortnight of Lent is the time we are called to greater devotion and mortification. Now is the time to meditate even more deeply on Christ’s Passion. This is the time that the Church traditionally covers the crucifix and statues imitating Jesus at the end of the Gospel for Passion Sunday in the Extraordinary Form: “Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple.” Many parishes have kept up or brought back the tradition of veiling holy images during Passiontide. In my home, we also cover our religious images and crucifixes with the traditional purple colored cloth to keep the Passion of Our Lord in the front of our minds throughout the day. Not only are we mortifying our bodies through our Lenten penances, but we now mortifying our sight. The veiled crucifix reminds us of how our sins divide us from Jesus; we cannot see him or be guided by him when sin rules our hearts...

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register...

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

CWBN Conference Midwest: Writers Gotta Write

Photo Credit: Katzie Truso
 A couple of weekends ago I had the privilege to help organize the Midwest conference of the Catholic Women's Blogging Network. Nearly 40 women from across the Midwest gathered at a beautiful mansion in St. Paul, Minnesota to talk about blogging, network with each other, and support each other as Catholic bloggers. I also discovered that my mostly introverted self needed over a week to recover from the non-stop fun of the weekend.

When Anna and Jacqui asked me last summer to help them plan the conference, I was not really sure what it would all entail except that it would be fun. The work was definitely worth it, even if I was just on the back end of the planning. My co-planners had a vision for this conference, and I was happy to support that vision and help them plan. Which was probably a good choice since I have a lot of things on my plate these days. We managed to pull things together fairly smoothly, even with our last-minute location change. I had the pleasure of cooking way too much cabbage, chick pea, and wild rice soup for our Saturday lunch, and sending jars of it home with several people.
Photo Credit: Katzie Truso
The conference began with breakfast and short introductions. Then my sweet friend Nell gave a talk on networking, branding, social media use, and things along those lines. She was awesome as always. And her blog really shows her ability to do the things necessary to be authentic and network on her blog. Laura followed her up with a talk about writing--how and when to write. She gave great tips on how to plan writing, and how to actually do it.
Photo Credit: Katzie Truso
After lunch we had technical and writing workshops where our bloggers were ask questions about their own blogs and writing. Then Haley gave a talk about her own blogging journey through the forming of a mastermind group and how she manages and runs her blog. Last on the blogging agenda was a question and answer time with our three speakers.

Then everyone went to Mass, but I stayed back to rest... plus, we always go as a family early Sunday morning and the professor had been parenting solo for nearly 36 hours by the time I got home Saturday night...

Dinner from Gardens of Solanica was amazing; really I was just thrilled to be eating delicious meat...

If you want to hear more on the conference, head over to the link up at Jacqui's blog!

We ended the night with giveaways from all of our sponsors!

Some of the donated swag came from: Lily Jade, Nena & Co, Kiki Koyote, Hatch Prints, Brass & Mint Co, Mata Traders, Pink Salt Riot, and Magnificat.

Thanks to all of our sponsors for making this day so wonderful!

Also, thank you to our awesome ladies who helped in the kitchen all day: Amy, Kelly, and Cara!

Photo Credit: Katize Truso
Katzie took beautiful headshots of all of us bloggers. Check out her other work at her website.
My personal take away from this day is that I am doing the right thing for me in terms of the blogging and writing. After T was born (nearly two years ago?!??! what???!?!), it dawned on me that being a writer is not just something I do on the side, but it is important for me to do as part of my vocation. I am a wife and mother, teacher to my home-schoolers, and also a free lance writer. It is weird to say that "out-loud," but I have found writing to be part of my calling, something that God wants me to do. And when I do it well, on top of all the other parts of my vocation, I find a fulfillment in serving God.

My main goal for myself after this conference is to make sure I am writing something everyday--not necessarily something I publish--but putting words on the screen or on paper. Practice makes perfect, right? The other goal is to post more of #theprofessorsdinner on Instagram, and prove that I do not make extensive, complex meals every night...sometimes I make things out of a can...

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