Friday, July 18, 2014

Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.

Skimlinks Test
Yesterday, I mentioned I might have a fashion post this week showing off my Twice purchases. Well, you 'll never see that post. In fact, you won't see any more posts from me; I've decided to stop blogging.

When I announced in May that I was taking a blogging break, I had an inkling that it might be more than just the summer. And yet, I found myself missing the blog, starting drafts for the future, and even planning a redesign and transfer to WordPress. All the while, I've been praying about it and it's become more and more clear that God is calling me elsewhere. The blog had a time and a place and I truly believe that I (quite accidentally) fell into doing God's work on the Internet, but like most things in life, its season was relatively short and in order to move on to do what He is calling me to next, I must leave this behind.

In a week or two, I'll be setting this blog to private and closing down some of my social media accounts. It's a bittersweet thought.  On one hand, I'm looking forward to the simplicity it will bring, on the other, I'm a bit heartbroken to leave behind the community I have formed here.  Many of you have followed me and my family for years, offered me support and love, prayers and practical advice. I'm so grateful for all that this blog has brought me, including several friends I see "in real life" on a regular basis and my husband's job.  What blessings!  

I started this blog as a newlywed and now I'm the mother of a two year old (who is closer to three than two!) and just celebrated my fourth anniversary.  I don't know how my life would be different if I didn't have my blog through it all, but I know it would be drastically so, and probably for the worst.  More than anything, this blog has helped me connect to women who share my faith and helped me grow in my own.  It has challenged me to walk the walk. 

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that our desire to continue to try to grow our family in relative anonymity has affected our decision as well.  Our yearning for more children, our losses and grief have all been very public so far and I look forward to the journey in front of us being a bit more private, shared only with close friends and family.  If you feel called to continue to pray for us, we'd love your prayers.

I won't completely disappear. I still plan to write for Faith in All Times and Blessed Is She and perhaps a guest post for some of my dear blogger friends from time to time. I'm sure I'll still have thoughts to write and share but I'll just have to be more intentional about them in the small opportunities I'll have to share.  You'll also be able to find me on Facebook in The Catholic Brew.

So, this is it, my friends.  I'll be praying for you.  God bless.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

What we're celebrating today, softening my heart of stone, and where you can find me.

Today is my fourth wedding anniversary.  It doesn't seem like it's been that long, yet I can't quite remember what life was like before David.  This past year has been a tough one for us moving once again away from our families, David starting a new job. and our two miscarriages but, if anything, it has only affirmed how blessed I am to have David as my partner through it all.  

Anyway, my blog break is still going on (though I will probably have a fashion post up next week so you can help me decide which items from my Twice order I should keep and which I should send back - kind of like a po' folks version of Stitch Fix.) but I wanted you to know where you can find me in the meantime:  

I am a contributor for Faith in All Times, a website dedicated to Catholic women dealing with infertility and pregnancy loss.  My newest essay just posted:
Sometimes I wonder if my own hardheartedness is to blame for my miscarriages. I've grown so much spiritually since (and through) my losses. Perhaps God knew that the only way I would truly humble myself and trust Him was through being utterly in pain, broken, and empty. It's true that it's easier to reach out to God when we have nothing on this earth that can comfort us.
If that's the case, then my children are truly my road to salvation; they are guiding me to the Cross. They have not suffered. No, they have been redeemed while I have suffered their absence. How blessed are they to have never had to endure the hardships of this earth! And all the while, they are helping to bring their mother closer to them in heaven.
Shouldn't it be the opposite though? Shouldn't I, their mother, be the one shepherding and guiding them to the Lord? Protecting them? Sacrificing myself for them? The order seems to be reversed, but the ways of the world are not the ways of the Lord. "The first shall be last" and all of that. So here it is, a mother being guided toward heaven by her children...continue reading at Faith in All Times

I'll also be contributing to Blessed Is She, a daily Catholic women's devotional starting in September. Until then, you can subscribe to get the daily readings, read the contributor's bios, and follow us on a plethora of social media to get your daily dose of the Word.  I'm personally helping head up the Pinterest page and would be pleased as peaches if you'd follow along.  I'm very excited about this project and the faithful, committed group of women who are dedicated to it. 

Last but not least, I recently joined Instagram so you can follow me there.  I've been sharing some of my favorite scriptures (and pictures of my sweet pea).  Here's my recent absolute favorite:

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Breasts might be sexy, but they're not "sexual".

Kendra wrote this post about breastfeeding.  I appreciated much of what she had to say because I have been attacked in the past by some self-proclaimed "lactivists" who look down on women who cover when breastfeeding (seemingly because by covering I'm somehow "setting the breastfeeding movement back" and bowing to the patriarchy...or something like that).  I'm a huge supporter of breastfeeding.  But I'm just more comfortable with a nursing cover.  Simple as that.  Mainly because I'm not very gifted at nursing discreetly and I'm not a fan of the looks I get when it's not discreet.  So, with all the articles and posts out there talking about why a woman shouldn't have to cover (which I do agree with, by the way), it's nice for there to be someone saying, "I cover too!" 

Kendra covers.  I cover. What I disagreed with Kendra's post is not her what but her why:
And when people shout, "Breasts aren't sexual!" I get kind of embarrassed, because, um, are you sure you're doing it right? And if women really thought breasts weren't sexual, or at least private, then they wouldn't wear shirts at all. But I do. I always wear a shirt in public. Every time.
I disagree because I don't think that breasts are "sexual" and I don't think that they should be presented as such. In her follow-up post, Kendra addresses the fact that whether breasts are sexual are not doesn't really have any bearing on whether she covers while nursing:
The comment section was overwhelmingly a discussion of whether breasts are rightly considered sexual. I was involved in that discussion. It was an interesting exercise. But, really, the more I've thought about it, the more it really doesn't have anything at all to do with what I'm talking about.
But, because she brought it up, and because I have copious thoughts on the topic, I thought that it was worth writing a post even to the point of breaking my self-imposed blogging break.  

Breast are not intrinsically sexual.  

Of course, our culture teaches that they are; our culture is wrong.  And in this instance (as in most cases where our culture is wrong), this thinking actually very detrimental, not just to breastfeeding but to the way women view their bodies as a whole.  I don't cover while nursing because I think breasts are sexual.  That's not why I wear a shirt either.  After all, I don't wear belly-baring shirts or bikinis and that's not because I think that stomachs are sexual.  I am a huge proponent of modesty but, at least to me, modesty does not mean covering up all body parts that might be considered sexual.  And I don't think that breastfeeding is really a modesty issue.  Is something that is inherently pure and good, like feeding your child, capable of being immodest?  I don't think so. (I'll write about what modesty does mean to me another time but for the sake of semi-brevity, we shall move onwards.)

By "breasts are not sexual", I don't mean that breasts can't be sexy or that they can't cause sexual pleasure; however, "sexual" is not interchangeable with "sexy" or "a body part that can cause sexual pleasure".  You see, legs and muscular arms and a smile can all be "sexy" without being "sexual".  People can derive sexual pleasure from kisses or a nibble on their earlobes (etc.) but lips and ears are not considered intrinsically "sexual".  Breasts, like these other body parts, have a purpose separate from sexual pleasure - to feed a baby - and the sexual pleasure is a bonus.

So why do breasts get labeled "sexual" when other body parts that can be "sexy" and induce sexual pleasure do not?  In part, the drastic decrease in breastfeeding and increase in formula feeding in the 20th century severed breasts from its natural function, to feed a child.  (Strikingly similar to how birth control has severed sex from its natural function of procreation, no? But I digress.)

But there is much more to the sexualization of breasts than just formula.  It has a great deal to do with the oversexualization of women and degradation of the female body in general.  Breasts are unique to women, so they must be sexual, right?  Perhaps part of this confusion comes from the fact that the most obvious body parts unique to men and women are sex organs.  But breasts are not sex organs.  Erogenous zones, yes.  Sex organs, no.  I don't often see men's nipples considered "sexual" or hear them asked to cover their nipples in public, yet many men are aroused by nipple stimulation.  Women are being singled out as "sexual" beings, with the parts unique to them - regardless of function - being labeled "sexual" as well.

Why did this happen?  How did this happen?  Pornography and ye olde "Sexual Revolution" seem to have a lot to do with this:
Nursing mothers were a common sight at this international gathering. What I found intriguing, however, was that women from “first-world” nations tended to drape themselves and sit off in a corner, while women from other nations seemed to have no qualms whatsoever about feeding their babies in full view of others. I remember one woman unabashedly roaming the crowd passing all manner of bishops and cardinals with her breast fully exposed while her child held on to it with both hands happily feeding. The only people flinching seemed to be those from the northern hemisphere.

Isn’t it interesting that the part of the world producing the most pornography and exporting it to the rest of the globe has seemed to lose all sense of the true meaning of the human breast? What a commentary on the sad state of our sexually wounded culture! Breasts have been so “pornified” that we can fall into thinking that even their proper use is shameful. In other words, we have been so conditioned to see a woman’s body through the prism of lust that we find it very difficult to recognize the purity and innocence of breast-feeding.
St. Paul hit the nail on the head when he said, “To the pure all things are pure, but to the impure nothing is pure” (Ti 1:15). It is a tragically impure world that labels the purity of a baby at the breast as “gross.” For those with the purity to see it, a nursing mother is one of the most precious, most beautiful, and most holy of all possible images of woman.
-Christopher West, "Nursing a Sexually Wounded Culture"

Why does it matter if breasts are labelled "sexual" or not?

Because "sexual" often goes hand-in-hand with "shameful".  It upsets me when people insist that breasts are sexual because that thinking produces shame and perpetuates a disordered view of the female body that emerged from disordered sexuality.  If we had a healthier, balanced view of sex and sexuality in our culture, it probably wouldn't matter if breasts were called sexual.  Then again, if we had a healthier view of sexuality, we probably wouldn't think of breasts as sexual.  But, in this society of sexual extremes, in which sex is no longer sacred, anything sexual has become tainted.  Something as natural, normal, and loving as feeding a child becomes conditional - "Breasts are good only in the context of feeding a child and only if the woman is properly covered and only if the child is under a certain age, etc." The truth is that breasts are inherently good as a rule and the improper uses of breasts (such as pornography) are the exception to the rule.

This disordered view of sexuality and sex hurts women.  It teaches them that their breasts are impure body parts and that, as the person attached to these body parts, they too are something "less than".  They have to cover up out of shame (instead of modesty being more an issue of dignity and cultural standards).  They have to prove that they can be pure and good in spite of the body they have, instead of treating their bodies with the dignity that is inherent to it.

When it comes specifically to breastfeeding, the insistence that breasts are sexual does much harm.  Many women are unable to breastfeed their children (completely unable to breastfeed them, not just in public) because the belief that breasts are sexual is so ingrained that they cannot feed their child as God intended without feeling like the act is shameful, dirty, and sexual.  They cannot not separate society's messages of the sexualized breast from its beautiful, natural purpose.  This goes far beyond a stranger telling a woman it's indecent to breastfeed in public.  It's society telling a woman that her body parts are themselves indecent, at least in certain contexts.  Many women can separate breasts as sexual objects and breasts as functional body parts, but others cannot.  And they shouldn't have to. Breastfeeding can be difficult enough without introducing the additional questions of its modesty, appropriateness, or goodness.

I'm not suggesting that you can't enjoy breasts in a sexual way without it being pornographic or wrong.  Of course not!  But just like the main purposes of the lips are non-sexual, and therefore they are not innately "sexual" body parts, so too is the breasts' main purpose non-sexual and therefore they are not innately "sexual".

I also am not trying to encourage women to walk about topless.  We have cultural norms in our society relative to dress and modesty, but that is truly a separate issue than that of the function and dignity of the female breast.  Cultural norms can be a good thing, but they change over time (often very swiftly) and aren't necessarily founded in a deeper truth.  In our society, cultural norms of modesty have been trending toward revealing more skin while at the same time cultural norms regarding breastfeeding insist we show less skin or nurse only behind closed doors.  I find that to be incredibly revealing (no pun intended).  The issue is not, "If women can wear string bikinis, why can't I nurse in public?"  What we wear in other situations, in fact, has no bearing on breastfeeding.  The true issue is that nursing has always been seen as a good, positive, modest act, yet we have less freedom to nurse in public than we did a century ago.  Breastfeeding is always good (and should always be treated as such); cultural norms come and go.

What I am trying to do is to call attention to the words we use and the way we talk about our bodies, because they do matter.  They inform our subconscious and make lasting impressions on our perceptions of ourselves and others.

Want to read more of my breast(feeding) thoughts? Here you go: Nursing in Church, Yay or Nay? and Breastfeeding, Guilt and Letting Go of Control

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

To the Mom of Five Children (Close in Age)

Hey, you! Yeah, you - the mother of five young children close in age.  I see families like yours everywhere.  In the pews before us at Mass.  At the grocery store.  In the park.  I always try to meet your eyes, but when you see me looking, you usually look away.  I can’t be sure why, but I imagine that it’s because you’ve seen one too many disapproving looks.

Your large family is counter-cultural.  You make people uncomfortable because you embrace the very things that society teaches us to fear: children.  Life.  People wonder if you’re crazy.  Or you’re Catholic.  Or if you own a television.  I don’t.  Your children are beautiful blessings.  It seems perfectly sane that you would welcome more of them. 

Let me tell exactly what I see when I see your family...continue reading at A Knotted Life

My friend, Bonnie, has been taking a bit of a blogging break while moving and has had a ton of guests posts in the interim.  I strongly suggest you poke through the posts over the last few weeks because there are several really great pieces.  I also love the posts Bonnie has written about pregnancy loss.  Oh, and if you don't already know about her son's (alleged) miracle through the intercession of Venerable Fulton Sheen, you can get caught up here or read the (very) recent exciting news about the case here.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Wedding Vows Dissected: Honor Each Other

Amanda, blogger at Worthy of Agape, is currently on her honeymoon (commence that lovey dovey sigh) and got a great group of bloggers  together to write a series based on wedding vows.  You can find me over there today discussing "honor each other":
Do you honor your spouse? I assume that the verb “to honor” is not one you use in daily conversation. Perhaps you’ve never even used that phrase outside your wedding vows. You’re much more likely to say, “I love my husband,” or “I respect my wife”. One of the Ten Commandments tells us to “Honor your father and mother.” Clearly to honor is something special, something set apart and reserved for those sacred relationships that hold the most importance in our lives, our society, and our faith. So what does it mean to honor someone?...continue reading at Worthy of Agape

And while we're talking honeymoons, I wrote about my own a while back.  I can't believe that was almost four years ago!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Catholic Pregnancy Loss Ebook: Submissions Wanted

Hi all! I'm interrupting my blogging break to announce a new project I'm taking on.  I'm putting together an ebook on pregnancy loss especially for Catholic women.  It will include chapters of various women's personal accounts and experiences, as well as topical chapters such as:
  • how to commemorate your baby
  • pregnancy after loss
  • physical healing after miscarriage
  • how to respond to hurtful comments 
  • prayers
  • profiles of Saints who are special intercessors of pregnancy and loss
  • reflections on specific scriptures
  • etc.

If you would like to contribute, please contact me for more details.  Feel free to pass this information on to others who you think may be interested in contributing. The deadline for first drafts is August 1st. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

When 10,000 Hours is Just the Beginning

I know what you're thinking.  "Didn't she say she's on a blogging break until September?"  Why, yes.  I did.  I am.  Maybe I should have added a little caveat.  You won't see any new content on my blog, but you may see a guest post every now and then elsewhere.  Like today.

I'm over at my friend Sarah's blog, Two Os + More, talking about sewing machines, marriage, and how 10,000 hours just doesn't cut it. 
I have a sewing machine sitting in my bedroom. I got it for Christmas 2012 and I have yet to use it. But if I were to conquer my fear (which I have every intention of doing this summer), dust off the sewing machine and sew every day for the next four years, I would expect that I would be a pretty good seamstress. I’m sure most others would expect that of me as well.

Not that I would be an expert. Nay expertise takes 10,000 hours of practice (or so says Malcolm Gladwell) and to get that many hours in would take nearly 7 hours a day for four years to get to that magic number. I certainly won’t be sewing for 7 hours a day but, surely, by the end of four years, I would be able to make a passable frock in a decent amount of time.

In a couple months, my husband and I will celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary. And marriage, well, despite not sewing a stitch, I have a feeling that it’s nothing like sewing. You see, by the time we reach four years, I’ll have spent 35,064 hours as a wife...
continue reading at Two Os + More

Monday, May 12, 2014

See you in September!

Hi all! I've decided to take a blogging break for the summer.  I know it's not technically summer yet, but it sure feels like it here so I'll just call it summer anyway.  Fall officially starts in September, so let's just set that as a tentative "I shall blog again" date.  

This break hasn't been prompted by anything specific.  We're all still doing well here.  I've been toying with the idea of distancing myself a bit from blogging and with an upcoming summer filled with traveling, the timing couldn't be better.  

I'll still be present online over on the blog's Facebook page and Twitter where I'll be sharing my favorite links from around the web, Lucia's funny quotes, asking for advice, etc. - the same old, same old.  

I hope you have a blessed summer and I'll see in in the fall!

Friday, May 9, 2014

When to tell a toddler about a pregnancy

I recently had a reader email me with a question about when to share her pregnancy with her toddler.  Since this is a question many women may have, I thought I might expand a bit on my answer and make it into a blog post.  I'd love to hear other thoughts on the matter as well, so please share yours in the comments below!

First of all, if you are reading this because you are pregnant, congratulations!  Each family may share the joyous news of a pregnancy in different ways and I truly believe that there is no one right answer.  This question is, understandably, a little more complicated for women who have previously had a miscarriage or have reason to suspect they have a higher than average risk for miscarriage.  However, the truth is that every woman and every pregnancy may end with the death instead of the birth of a baby, so it's a valid concern for any pregnant woman.
In the past, David and I have told Lucia about our pregnancies as soon as I got the positive test.  We strongly believe this was the right decision for our family and will continue to do the same for future pregnancies.  We liked that she was able to talk to and kiss my tummy and this bond with her siblings from the beginning, something that meant even more after we lost the babies.

Young children are generally very resilient when it comes to loss. They often cope better than adults.  (In part, I think, because they have such a strong connection to the divine.) It's valuable for children to learn about death as a part of life. My role as a parent is not to shield Lucia from tough realities but to help her work through them in age appropriate ways.  Because of the incredible advances and medicine, death is not as much a part of daily life as it once was.  Obviously, that's a good thing, but it also means that we as a society are often ill-prepared to face death when it does occur.  Learning about death at a young age, in a way that is guided by loving parents, will lay a foundation for our children to deal with death in healthy ways later in life. 

We keep the memories of our lost children alive in our family by naming them and talking about them regularly.  It didn't make sense to us to hide the existence of our unborn children from Lucia until we were past the first trimester since we didn't plan to hide their existence even if they had passed. They are members if our family from the beginning and we treat them as such.

I also cannot imagine how I would have explained to Lucia why mommy was so sick and so sad for so long if I couldn't explain about my miscarriages.  Most likely, after you lose a child, you're other children will notice something and I liked being able to be honest with Lucia about what was going on.

All this is not to say that I don't see some benefits of waiting to tell. Because of our history we plan to wait as long as possible before telling others (outside our immediate family) about our next pregnancy - something a loudmouth toddler might spoil.

If you do miscarry, having to break the news to a little one can be extremely painful for you. After both my miscarriages, Lucia continued to kiss and talk to my tummy, something that always brought me to tears. It took a while for her to understand that the baby was no longer there and that she would not, in fact, be able to hold and play with and grow up with the baby like we had told her. That second part was mostly an issue after the first miscarriage. After my first loss, we talked about pregnancy much differently with Lucia, focusing on the present (the baby in mommy's tummy) instead of the potential future (what life will be like after the baby is born). When the baby died, Lucia only had to grieve the fact that the baby was no longer in mommy's tummy and not the lost future with a sibling. I suggest that no matter when you decide to tell your child(ren), you think about how you'll talk about the pregnancy and the baby in a way that fits for your family and your situation. 

Whatever you decide to do, be assured that your family is in my prayers.  I pray for families who are expecting and families who have experienced pregnancy loss every night.  May God bless you as you make this and other decisions for your family.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

What the internet gave me; And a few tips on how to make the internet work for good.

Money in my pocket.
My husband.

Just a few things the internet has given me over the past ten years.  

I'm of a generation that hardly remembers what it's like to write a paper without the internet.  I do vaguely remember making copies of Very Heavy Books in the public library for my report on tortoises.  And I do know how to work my way through archives of bound government documents, but only because I was a history major (and I think that's fun).  But I truly cannot fathom a life without the internet.  Sometimes I get a little down about that and daydream about the good ol' days when children spent all day in the backyard as I chatted with our next door neighbor while both of us hung our laundry on the line.  I decry my love of the internet and admonish myself because I just can't seem to go a day without it. 

But let's be honest here: We live in a society that assumes internet access.  It's also quite different from that of my grandparents.  

Instead of sitting around sipping coffee and playing card games with the neighborhood ladies, my days as a stay-at-home mom are fairly isolated.  I can go to play groups, but guess where I find about about those?  Facebook.  And they are often far away (which means I would need to google some directions).  

I didn't learn how to sew or cook or keep house from my mother as my grandmother did from hers.  So I watch YouTube tutorials and follow blogs with housekeeping tips, google "how to remove a ____ stain" (you would not believe how many options there are for that blank until you have a toddler!) and search for local sewing classes.

In a modern society where babies aren't nearly as abundant, I entered motherhood without a clue and still frequently can be found asking, "Is it normal that my toddler _______?" in a myriad of Facebook groups.  

I don't have time to leisurely read the newspaper with a toddler afoot (and no neighborhood kids to keep her entertained). I keep up on current events by reading news stories online and discussing them through social media in the small pieces of time I have throughout the day.

The internet kept me sane after my miscarriages.  I googled and before my eyes appeared other women with their stories and their advice.  There were other women who had experienced miscarriages! And many of them had some of the same thoughts and feelings I had!  So I wasn't crazy after all!  I researched and ordered the most helpful books to read.  I found a Catholic counselor online.  And a local pregnancy loss support group.  And Facebook groups about loss and infertility.

My life has been immeasurably enriched by the internet.  Of course, meeting my husband online was the greatest of these internet blessings.  Four of my deepest friendships (including three local friends that I see regularly) were women I first met through social media.  I also have made innumerable friends through the blogging world and social media, women who I may or may not ever meet, but who have been a lifeline for me particularly through my miscarriages.  My husband even found his current job (after an unfruitful yearlong job search) through one of my blog readers!

Instead of longing for a life without internet, I'm learning to accept it for what it is and it's role in our current society.  The internet is not inherently bad.  Living an "unplugged" life is not inherently good.  The internet is a tool, and you can choose how you use it.  Here are a few tips for maximizing the potential for good while limiting the bad:
  • Record your time. For a day/week, record how much time you spend online and what you're doing with that time.  This is fairly easy for me to do because we don't have wireless internet and I don't have a smart phone, so I have to actually sit down at a computer to use it, but if you do have more mobile methods, make sure you include those!  Once you have a list of the basic internet activities you do and how much time you spend on each, divide the lists into two categories: online activities that enrich your life, and those that don't.  You might realize that you're spending less "wasted" and more "productive" time than you thought or...the opposite.  Work on cutting out the waste, but acknowledge that not all your internet time is bad.  
  • Log out. After you're done on Facebook, Twitter, your blog reader, even your email, log out.  If I force yourself to log in each time you go online, it an extra barrier up and forces me to reconsider, "Am I only going on because I'm bored? Do I really need to check Facebook right now? Will this I'm-just-going-to-check-real-quick turn into 20 minutes wasted? What can I be doing instead?"
  • Schedule specific internet time.  I'm awful at this, but when I stick to it, it really cuts out the internet crap.  In the morning, I'll set aside a specific time of my day to go online - maybe nap time or after Lucia goes to bed or a set our like 2-3. Before that time, I'll jot down the various things I "need" to do online.  When the time comes, I usually have to prioritize my list because I won't have time to work on a blog post, pay a couple bills, research blood clotting disorders, manage my blog and business social media, and read all the new posts in my blog reader.  Focusing on specific tasks keeps me focused.  And if I do have extra time left after I get everything done that I wanted to, I don't feel guilty wasting the rest of my time on mindless internetting.
  • Fast.  Consider fasting from the internet or from a specific site - be it one day, three days, a week or a month.  Take note of what  you really miss while you're gone.  When I've taken Facebook breaks, I've realized that I didn't missed as much as I thought I would.
  • Be choosy.  That's the beauty if the internet, right? You get to decide what you see.  So if someone's posts or comments tend to bother you, unfollow or unfriend.  If you find yourself often just pressing "mark as read" on a particular blog in your reader, just unfollow.  If you find spending time in a particular FB group makes you depressed, grouchy, or frustrated, leave!  If you spend too much time in another group but the benefits don't outweigh the wasted time, leave!  Since I've left a few facebook groups (and unfollowed others so the posts don't pop up in my news feed to suck me in), I've just naturally found myself with not a lot to do when I get on Facebook.  So I log off.
  • Make a "one tab" rule.  If you are like me and have the attention span of a squirrel, it's easy to go down the rabbit hole of the internet, opening tabs here and there like a madwoman and never quite doing what you meant to do.  Make a rule to never have more than one or two tabs/windows open at a time.  This will force you to complete the task at hand before you move on.


For more thoughts on the internet and social media visit my friends (who I met through social media):

Kendra (Catholic All Year): If My Social Media Friends Had to Do This in Real Life, a screenplay in five acts (in which I have a small part!) 
Molly (Molly Makes Do): One is Silver and the Other is Gold
Haley (Carrots for Michaelmas): Dear Moms, Don't Hate Yourself for Liking Social Media
Christy (Fountains of Home): Life Online is Part of Your Life Too
Bonnie (A Knotted Life): A Shortcut to Friendship

Saturday, May 3, 2014


This started out as a Five Minute Friday.  But then I didn't have five whole minutes free on Friday.  Seriously. Not five minutes.  So it was written in a minute here and a minute there over the course of two days, probably equaling probably ten times five minutes, but I wrote on the prompt, so can I still get a cookie?

I noticed recently that the cleaner my home is, the better I handle messes.  If Lucia strews the contents of her toy box about our otherwise tidy townhouse, I know that it's only a matter of 10 or 20 minutes keeping me from order.  And if I need a break from the mess, I only have to walk into another room to get a reprieve.  But when my entire home is out of sorts, any one mess seems like it might be the one that sends me over the edge.  It's just one more thing on my already overwhelming to-do list.

That realization didn't stop there though.  My interior life is much the same.  If I face a hardship during a time where I am otherwise in a place of peace, it seems manageable.  I can let it wreak a bit of havoc knowing that calm is just a little while away.  But when the same suffering arrives into a life already burdened by sorrows, it knocks me off my feet.

So it was with my miscarriages.  We were just coming out of a year of unemployment/underemployment for my husband, our fourth out of state move in four years, and several stressful months of trying to conceive.  It looked like the sun was just starting to come out and we were anxious for some time to heal from the pain of the previous year.  And then we lost a child.  Three months later, we found out we were pregnant again, but the outcome of that pregnancy looked grim from the start.  We lost that child a month later.

Looking back, I don't feel like I dealt with either of those miscarriages particularly well.  I know that there is not any one way one should grieve, but I can see that so much of my struggles with the grieving process were caused by everything else compounded with the losses.  I just wasn't in a very good place to weather any tough blows and two miscarriages in four month really shook an already rocky foundation.

Over the past few months, I've made a lot of efforts to take care of the everything elses of my life - eating healthy, exercising, sleeping more, deepening my prayer life, spending quality time with my husband, reading literature and spiritual works, nurturing friendships, and focusing on being present to my Lucia.  In addition, several of the factors out of our control just seemed to fix themselves - we recently got an answer to our financial stress, David's job has turned out to be a perfect fit for him, and we've settled into our new home. 

We're coming up on the due date of the first child we lost, who we named Francis Michael.  I would be 39 weeks (and two days, but who's counting?) right now.  If things has been different, I might have a baby in my arms right now.  I fully expected this to be a difficult time, but the past week I've felt nothing but joy. 

I have done some specific things to heal from our losses - reading books on pregnancy loss, attending counseling and a support group, etc - but I truly feel like it's the cleaning up of all the other messes in my life and putting my health and soul in order that has made this healing possible.  Making the best of life as it is laid a foundation in which I have the freedom to focus on grief.

At the same time it's made me realize how good my life is now - today - and stop pining for the life it could have been with another child.  Truly, I can't imagine what it would be like to have a baby or me anticipating labor right now.  That life seems so far away, so distant.  Although I'll always wish to have those two children we lost in our family instead of just in our hearts, I know that the today of reality is not any worse than the today that might of been.  Just different. 
Enjoying the good life, my friends.

This post could have taken a very different twist, in which I wrote about the mess that a trip to the beach causes. We're still finding sand everywhere.

Five Minute Friday 


Thursday, April 24, 2014

An Un-Bookish Reader's Guide to Falling in Love with Fiction

It's always a pleasure to guest post over at my friend Haley's blog, Carrots for Michaelmas.  She describes herself as "bookish" and as much as I'd love to have that describe me, it just doesn't.  If it doesn't describe you either, then maybe my post today will inspire you to read anyway.  Here's a little excerpt:

"Imagine the quintessential “bookish woman.” In your image, is she sitting next to the fire or in a comfy armchair with a cup of tea in hand? Is she reading Austen? Shakespeare? Fitzgerald? 
I am not that woman. I’m ambivalent toward tea at best.  I love to read, but I’m much more likely to lose myself in war history than a classic. Not only do I struggle to enjoy literature, but I regard myself as a fairly lousy fiction reader.  I struggle to find underlying themes or analyze literary devices.  
We’re often told, “Follow your passions,” and “pursue your strengths.” But what about the things that we aren’t particularly passionate or skilled?  Is it worth the effort to find ways to enjoy and pursue endeavors to which we are not innately drawn? While I don’t get excited by exercising or eating healthy, I actively look for ways to make these them more enjoyable because I see their value.  I’ve also done the same about exercising and feeding my mind through literature. Literature is not something that is a natural passion of mine but because I see the value of incorporating literature into my life, I’ve found ways to enjoy it and to become a better literature reader...continue reading at Carrots for Michaelmas

If you're looking for a little non-fiction to break up your fiction reading, don't forget about the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle.  Save 95% off 80+ resources! And please, please, please save yourself some money by buying the PDF version and sending the files to your Kindle/Kindle app yourself.  You can see my how-to post here. 

As a little thank you for buying through my affiliate link, I'm giving away a Lilla Rose Flexi clip to one randomly chosen person who does.  After you make your purchase, email a copy of your receipt to to be entered.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

How to Send Ebooks (or Other Docs) to Your Kindle/Kindle App

If you are at all involved with the blogging world, you've heard of ebooks.  Instead of purchasing print versions of books, you can often buy it as an ebook for a little cheaper.  Bloggers also offer ebooks as incentives to sign up for newsletters, as a bonus to those who pre-order their books, or to  share their expertise without having to go through the formal publication process.

I will admit that I've largely not seen the purpose of ebooks until just recently.  The main reason?  I've downloaded most of them as PDFs and then they've just sat there on my desktop.  I spend too many hours on the computer already that the idea of being chained to my computer to read is unappealing.  My first choice is still to read a physically real paper book, but I am perfectly happy reading an ebook on my Kindle Fire or, most often, the Kindle app on my husband's iPad - especially if the book is free, much cheaper, or only available in digital form.  

So, when I found out there was a way to email a PDF ebook to my Kindle app (and that the process took only seconds), all my problems were solved!  In case you would find this as useful as I do, here are the quick and easy steps for emailing a document to your Kindle reader.

The following directions will work with the following document types: Microsoft Word (.DOC, .DOCX), HTML (.HTML, .HTM), RTF (.RTF), Text (.TXT), JPEG (.JPEG, .JPG), Kindle Format (.MOBI, .AZW), GIF (.GIF), PNG (.PNG), BMP (.BMP), and PDF (.PDF)

1. Go to Scroll to the bottom of the page. Under "Let Us Help You" at the right click on "Manage Your Kindle".  (You may have to log in at this point if you haven't already.)

2. From there, click on "Personal Document Settings" located in the options along the left under "Your Device and Settings".

Notice I have some ebooks that I sent to my library recently. The "author" comes up as the email address I sent it from.

3. Check that your email address is on the "Approved Document E-mail List".  Only emails on this list are able to send documents to your Kindle/the Kindle app on a device.  If yours in so there, you can add it by clicking on "Add a new approved e-mail address" at the bottom.

4. Now, take note of the email address* for your device.  If you have multiple devices (for example, I have a Kindle Fire and an iPad with the Kindle app), you may have a different e-mail address for each one.

5. Go to your email and send your ebook/document to the Kindle email address* associated with the device you want it on.  The subject line can either be left blank or you can type "convert" in the subject box if you would like to convert to document to Kindle format. Then just attach your document and press send.  You can have up to 25 attachments in one email so if you have many ebooks sitting on your computer, you can transfer them together in one email.  (You can also send to up to 15 separate emails to get them to all your various devices at once.)  

Once you know the email addresses for your devices, you can send documents anytime starting with the last step!  There are also several other ways to get documents onto your Kindle/Kindle app, including USB and an app on your computer that would allow you to right click on a document and choose "Send to Kindle".  For more information on your other options, see this info on or this helpful blog post

If you are looking for some books to fill up your Kindle, there is a HUGE Ultimate Homemaking Bundle that goes on sale today. (Affiliate links below.) My sweet friend Haley's ebook, Feast, is one of the ebooks in the sale and if it is any indication of the quality of books involved, it's well worth the $29.97 (for over 80 ebooks!).

Don't get caught up on the word "homemaking" - these books are not all about the best way to vacuum but about what truly makes a home - marriage, health, homeschooling, working from home, motherhood, food, finances, pregnancy, faith, and more.  Even if you were only interested in the books in a few of the categories, you'd be getting well over your $30 worth and filling up that Kindle with a library of books to reference in your future homemaking.

To see a list of the books included and to purchase your copy, click here or on the button below.  There is a Kindle option for a little bit more but now that you know how to send the PDFs yourself, save the difference and use it toward putting some of the ideas in these ebooks into action.  This sale is only six days, so be sure to purchase your copy by April 28th.

As a little thank you for buying through my affiliate link, I'm giving away a Lilla Rose Flexi clip to one randomly chosen person who does.  After you make your purchase, email a copy of your receipt to to be entered.

*IMPORTANT: Documents sent through the Kindle Personal Documents Service are delivered over Whispernet. Amazon charges a small fee ($0.15 per MB) for Whispernet delivery. To avoid this fee, change the address to instead of  This will ensure documents are delivered over Wi-Fi, which is free!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Pregnancy Loss Resources: A book about the science behind miscarriage

Coming to Term: Uncovering the Truth about Miscarriage by Jon Cohen

Coming to Term is a different type of miscarriage book - it's purpose is not to comfort women or share personal narratives and coping strategies; instead it explores the scientific research behind miscarriage which, in it's own way, can be a comfort to those who have experienced pregnancy loss.  The author, Jon Cohen, is a journalist who, after having gone through his wife's multiple losses, noticed that doctors seemed to have very few concrete facts about miscarriage and set out to discover the scientific truth behind miscarriage himself by piecing together the scant medical research on the topic.

I read Coming to Term after my first miscarriage and was a bit ambivalent about it; after having a second miscarriage soon after, I'm grateful to have read it.  Knowing some concrete facts about the causes of miscarriage and some of the potential treatments kept me from losing hope after my second loss.  I still often repeat to myself the statistic that Cohen shares: a woman who has a history of repeat miscarriages - three or more - still has a 70% chance of carrying a pregnancy to term without medical intervention.

Perhaps the biggest lessons to be learned from this book is that miscarriage is more common than it was once thought, is largely still a mystery, and most miscarriages cannot be prevented.  Those are some tough facts to face for women that want answers and treatments, but can also be a comfort to know the truth, especially for the many men and women who are told conflicting, outdated, and non-evidence-based information from various medical professionals.

In additional to the hopeful statistics for future pregnancies, the two additional pieces of information that I have felt most useful to me are: 1) Research shows that approximately 50% of miscarriages are due to chromosomal abnormalities, which couples have no control over.  These losses are, essentially, just "bad luck" and do not raise the risk for future miscarriages. 2) Blood clotting disorders cause a significant number of miscarriages and the use of heparin and aspirin during pregnancy has been shown to raise the chances of successfully carrying a baby to term.  Because I read this book, I was able to ask my doctor about testing for blood clotting disorders.

I would caution women from reading this book right after a miscarriage.  Give yourself a few months to heal and read some of the more compassionate experience-sharing books first.  (I recommend After Miscarriage and Angels in my Heart.)  I found Coming to Term at times to be very difficult to read because it approached miscarriage in a clinical way.  In addition, there is frequent reference to abortion (there are some very strong links between abortion and miscarriage research), fertility treatments that do not respect the dignity of life, and surrogacy, all of which bring up ethical/moral issues and may be difficult to handle soon after a loss.

A consumer-focused view of parenthood runs throughout the book, though it certainly isn't the author's focus or even his intention; he simply includes stories of real couples, many which unfortunately include elements of this.  It is worth reading this book for the valuable medical information it contains; however, make sure you have healed enough and are prepared to be confronted by these issues.

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

    I bought into the Frozen hype. Now I want a refund.

    I feel like I am the last person to see Frozen, however, if that person is actually you: Warning! Spoilers abound!

    I'm a bit ashamed to admit it, but I bought into the Frozen hype.  David and I have been wanting to get our hands on a copy since it came out on DVD, but it's been all but impossible to find at a Redbox until this past weekend.  We were just as excited to watch it ourselves as we were to show it to Lucia.  

    Big mistake.  If I had watched it expecting a Disney movie, I probably would have enjoyed it tolerably well, but I was expecting the Disney movie of the year decade century and I was sorely, sorely disappointed.  So much so that as I stayed awake the last few nights with a sick toddler, I couldn't help wondering exactly what I found lacking in the movie. 

    1) The "You Can't Marry a Man You Just Met" storyline seemed contrived and a bit too obvious. I heard so many people saying, "Finally! A realistic Disney movie!" Realistic? Might I remind you of the anthropomorphic snowman? Or the character that controls wintery weather? Who watches a Disney movie for realism?  Isn't the whole point of fairy tales (and Disney movies are the fairy tales of modernity) to teach morals through the use of a fantastic story? They are supposed to get kids thinking and analyzing in order to find the moral.  But, apparently, it's much easier these days to just have the sister of the main character say the moral pointblank.  Unless the moral of the story is actually "your older sister knows best".  In addition to feeling like this "fairy tale rewrite" was a little forced in order to please the modern woman, it's also not a consistent message throughout the film (see #2 and #6).

    2) Hans must be evil because Kristoff is good. If we're talking about realism, let's talk about this love triangle.  In real life, it's not unusual that a woman might be interested in two men, but rarely is one all good and the other pure evil.  But I guess that's where people stop praising Frozen for being realistic.  As soon as I saw the love match-up between Anna and Kristoff, I knew that Hans would turn out to be the bad guy.  Not because anything in the movie suggested that, but because I knew Disney just wouldn't make a female character choose between two good guys. You can't marry a man you just met, but you still have to marry your one true love.  I was hoping that Anna would actually have to make a choice and that there would indeed be a new and exciting departure from the classic Disney princess model.  But apparently the only thing that has changed in princess relationships is a longer dating period.

    3) "She's my sister. She'd never hurt me." I saw a meme of this going around facebook a while back with friends tagging their sisters as a sign of the sisterly bond. Did they see the movie? Elsa does in fact hurt Anna, which would be somewhat understandable if it were done on accident (the ice in the heart was an accident after all) but she sent a snow monster after her. And then later Elsa was so upset to find out that Anna was dead. Well, it very well could have been that snow monster!  Anyway, this movie is touted as so new and unique because it's sisterly love and not true love's kiss that saved Anna, but that ending was pretty obvious from early on in the movie though, wasn't it?

    4) The bipolar snow queen was too much for me. One minute, Elsa is running away from her kingdom in tears because she revealed her powers, scared her subjects, and could have killed them. A moment later, she "let[s] it go" and changes herself from a modestly dressed princess to a sexy snow goddess complete with a slit up the leg.  She spends her childhood hiding from her kingdom and the sister she loves in order to protect them, then quickly changes into an angry, bitter witch.  Then at the end the movie, she is back in her kingdom frolicking with others - even though she was just enjoying herself living free in isolation.  The mood swings are a bit too drastic.  Even if I don't care that Disney movies are realistic, the emotions of the characters should still make sense for the fantastic situations they are in.

    5) The trolls seemed unnecessary. The role of comic relief was already taken by Olaf. And Kristoff. And Sven. And they seemed to undermine the whole "You Can't Marry a Man You Just Met" moral as "love experts" who wanted Kristoff and Anna to marry right away. I did agree with their advice that you can't change a person and that no one is perfect, but that was just another romantic love lesson that was being shoved into this movie that was primarily about sororal love. 

    6) We rented Turbo last week and it got more play in our house than Frozen. Lucia just didn't like it. She didn't ask to rewatch it once, whereas we kept Turbo for days because she was thrilled to watch it over and over.  They are different types of movies, but Lucia enjoys the traditional Disney princess movies - one of her current favorites is Sleeping Beauty - and some more story driven cartoon movies like The Prince of Egypt. Frozen just did not keep her interest. 

    That said, I appreciate that Disney has seemed to revive an interest in making music-filled movies based on classic fairy tales. I just think they would do a bit better if they kept closer to the original story lines like they did in the past. I couldn't see any resemblance of Frozen to it's supposed influence, Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen".  Other than the snow, of course.