Monday, March 31, 2014

Lent with a Toddler

Lucia (28 months) and I are sitting down for "school time" this Lent, which has consisted of me reading one Station of the Cross (from the book I share below) and the daily Mass readings while she colors a related coloring book page or two.  Then we have a little discussion.  It's pretty simple but has resulted in some great conversations and it's helped us focus our days around faith.  It has been so fruitful for us that I planning to continue this year round. 

I checked out numerous Easter and springtime books (both religious and not) from the library using this list and this one as my guides. As we make our way through them, I'll have to share some of my favorites with you.  Those books we've incorporated as "extra" reads before nap and at bedtime, but the heart of our "Lenten curriculum" has come from these few resources we own:

1. Magnificat - I've used our Magnificat to read the daily reading to Lucia while she colors either a general Lent coloring page or a page that relates closely to the day's Gospel.  If you don't have the Magnificat subscription, you can always find the daily readings at the USCCB website.

2. Coloring Book About Lent - I love this coloring book! It has pages that talk about some of the basics of Lent (why purple, what is Lent) and pages to correspond with specific Lenten readings, for example, today Lucia colored two pages on "The Man Born Blind" from yesterdays reading.  Hint: This is not one to get on Amazon - $1.57 at Barnes and Noble, $13.50 (for a coloring book!) from Amazon. Even with shipping B&N is a much better deal and they have a huge selection of Catholic coloring books around the same price point (we have the Catholic ABC Coloring Book and 1-2-3 Coloring Book).

3. Walking with Jesus to Calvary: Stations of the Cross for Children -  Perhaps a little too advanced for her age, Lucia couldn't maintain attention for the entire books, but she can definitely do one Station at a time (which is what we are doing - one a day).  She was very affected by the pictures which I feel were perfect - not to "cutesy" but certainly not too gory. The descriptions of each Station are definitely written for children but I don't think they are watered down.  There are many other Stations of the Cross books out there for children so if you have a great experience with another one, I'd love if you'd share!

4. Holy Heroes Coloring Book: The Passion of Jesus - We got this as part of the "Life of Jesus" coloring books set. I appreciate the detail in which it goes into the Passion - it's not just the Stations or the Sorrowful Mysteries, but a full narrative that begins in the Garden of Gethsemane and ends with Christ in the tomb.  I look forward to bringing out The Triumph of Jesus coloring book to continue the story on Easter. (Holy Heroes has a ton of other resources including a whole "Lenten Adventures" program that looks really great. I'm really hoping to add some of these resources to our home library in the next few years, but for now, I like starting small with only a few resources.  I get easily overwhelmed.)

5. My First Pictures of Easter - A board book Lucia got last year,  it is light on the words and full of pictures that make for a great jumping off point for conversations about Lent, the Stations of the Cross, and Easter.  I like to ask Lucia to tell me about certain pictures and it's always so humbling to hear her talk about Jesus with such love and compassion.  (She gets very upset about Jesus's "owies" and kisses them constantly.)

6. Stations of the Cross Coloring Book - We don't actually have this, but if we were to add one item to what we already have for this year, it would be a coloring book that Lucia could use along with our Stations book.  The Holy Heroes book we have works pretty well, but having something with the Stations specifically numbered would be great. 

I photocopy the coloring book pages for Lucia to color so I have access to the "masters" for years to come.  I'm actually hoping to someday take the coloring books apart and put the pages in page protectors in a binder along with other resources I print out and find elsewhere to help us celebrate the liturgical year.  I am definitely not there yet, though.

I'd also like to eventually incorporate some projects/activities but I either need to take baby steps or I end up doing nothing at all.  We did make these Lenten bean jars on Ash Wednesday, but I constantly found the beans dumped on the floor so they are staying out of sight until we can try again next year with a more mature three year old. 


If you are looking for Easter basket ideas for toddlers, you may want to check out my post from last year of 50 Easter Basket Ideas for One Year Olds.  Most ideas would work well for the two year old and preschool crowd as well.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Blog Posts You've Been Dying for Me to Write (Blog Post Idea Generators to Beat Writer's Block) #7QT

I was having a bit of writer's block last night so I decided to get some help from some blog post idea generators.  Please take a gander at all the blog posts I could possibly write and if you so choose, you can "vote" for your faves in the comments and I may just have to oblige you in the next few weeks.  And if you're feeling a bit a writer's block yourself, you are welcome to steal any of these ideas and/or visit the generators themselves.

Save Your Marriage Using Only Cooking
An interesting proposition. I can't say that my marriage is in need of saving, but an experiment in how stepping up my efforts in the kitchen affects our marital bliss couldn't hurt. 

Lucia's Eating Habits
Well, she basically doesn't eat so this post might be short.
(This is obviously just for the mommy blogger but an added fun element is that you can submit ideas to be included in the Blogatron 2000.)

Think You're Cut Out For Doing Books? Take This Quiz
Doing books? Also known as reading.  Quick version: 
Are you human? 
Do you know how to read? 
If you answered yes to both, you are cut out for doing books!
(If you're wondering, the three nouns I put in were faith, toddlers, and books.)

You know what's great about butter?
I think this is the perfect title for introducing my readers to my poetry skills.
(If you are feeling like something completely random.)

Shoveling yourself out on a snowy day.
I don't think those of you who have had a horrible winter would appreciate a post like this from someone living in North Carolina.  But I can imagine a hilarious vlog "how to" shot on a hot, sunny day.  Well, hilarious if you're not currently snowed in somewhere else in the country.  Sorry, Dwija.

Our Shame and Nakedness
Not a generator, but I love this idea from Internet Business Mastery to search a topic on Amazon, choose an interesting book that pops up, and steal the chapter titles as topic ideas.  These awesome ideas are from the table of contents of Prayer: Our Deepest Longing.  (I searched "prayer".)  I also happen to have this book on my wish list now so it was totally a win-win - found great content to write and great content to read.

While we're talking blogs, check out this post by my friend Haley about setting a tone of charity on your blog.  She's so right on and, as always, super inspirational. 


One of my favorite bloggers, Rosie, has a giveaway up for a Lilla Rose hair accessory from yours truly.  Enter here.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Let's Talk About Miscarriage

Recently, I've been setting up quite a few Facebook parties for my Lilla Rose business.  I also recently hosted an Usborne book party.  If you don't know how this works, a Facebook event is set up, the host invites guests, and at an appointed day and time, the consultant, host, and attendees all get on Facebook at the same time.  Questions are asked, games are played, information is shared.  It's really fun.  I enjoy putting on these events for customers and I had a great time hosting for my friends. 

I started thinking about how amazing it was to get people from all over the country (and potentially the world) to discuss one topic.  There is a completely different vibe from blogging because it's much more conversational and immediate.  I started to think about what else I could do as a Facebook event and the possibilities went much further than selling hair accessories.  I could set up an event on any topic and "meet up" with many other women who are interested in discussing it with me.  Sounds fun.  And enlightening. 

So what would I love to converse with other women about?  Books and raising children and marriage and...and...miscarriage.  More than anything what makes me feel a bit lonely and isolated right now is miscarriage.  I imagine I'm not alone in feeling alone.  While I think great strides are being made, it's still very much a taboo topic.  So, I'm creating a little space where we can talk about it.

I'm going to prepare some questions to talk about and some quotes and resources to share, but also I'm going to let the conversation go where it will and if structure isn't necessary, I'll put them aside and we can just talk.  You are welcome whether or not you've ever had a miscarriage.  If you haven't had one and would like to ask some questions to understand what your friend/family members are going through, all that we ask is that you are respectful.

In order for the event to be more private (not show up in news feeds), I have created a "Let's Talk About Miscarriage" Facebook group.  Please request to join the group and you will then be able to see and RSVP for the event within that group. Again, you do not have to have had a miscarriage to join the group, you just have to want to join the conversation. Then join me on Monday, March 31 at 9pm EST. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Can't I get some advice for parenting an only child without being patted on the back?

I've recently been looking for resources on raising only children.  David and I still hope to have a large family, but Lucia is currently and could always be an only child.  She'll be around four by the time the next child comes along, at the earliest.  Being a part of Catholic circles, both in real life and the blogging world, I'm constantly hearing about all the benefits of siblings.  I agree that one of the greatest gifts you can give your child is siblings, but not all parents can give that gift.

Most of the Catholic families I know have I second child long before the first is four and I've been having a hard time finding advice for raising my little one.  Many of the things I have questions about (like how do I get Lucia to play independently and not cling to me 24 hours a day, or how to work on sharing) receive the answer "siblings".  Which at best is not helpful and at worst breaks my heart.  It's not their fault, I know.  That was the answer that worked for them.  But for me, it's not a possibility in the near future.

I really wish there were some resources to give me some pointers for socializing and teaching compassion and cooperation without siblings.  For example, I've been reading quite a bit recently about the drawbacks of overprotecting children.  Like this one saying mollycoddled kids 'grow up as narcissists' and that free play teaches them empathy.  Have you noticed that first time moms tend to overprotect and become more relaxed with each subsequent child?  Even if experience doesn't teach her to loosen up over time, necessity does.  With more children, there is less of mom to go around; children must become more independent, and they have opportunities for free play to learn patience and empathy and cooperation 24 hours a day.  I'm not saying that moms of many don't have to work on teaching those things (believe me, I know siblings fight!) but that the opportunity for continual practice has obvious benefits.

I know raising only children to be independent and empathetic can be done, but it requires much more intentional parenting to create opportunities for these lessons.  I have to seek out those practicing opportunities with Lucia and then need to make the most of them.  And because I have the time and ability to do everything for Lucia, I need to force myself to stand back while she learns on her own. 

So I've been looking for advice from parents who have been there.  But everything I find about parenting a single child seems to have such a smug attitude or worldly outlook.  "Good for you parenting an only child!  How responsible you are!  You're saving the environment!  Ending overpopulation!  Kids are expensive and you only have to pay for one!  With only one child you can have family without having to sacrifice career!"  

I just don't agree with that mentality.  At all.  I don't want to be told that having only one child is somehow morally superior.  After all, this is not a choice I've made.  I'd prefer a van load of raucous children, the anathema of the champions of "one and done".  As Annie said, it's difficult to have "society patting you on the back [while] you're mourning."  Indeed.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Comfort for the Grieving Mother from Another Place and Time

I am deeply saddened by the sorrow which has just come to you; it is indeed a real trial for you...May Our Lord grant you resignation to His holy Will!  Your dear little child is with God; he is looking down on you and loving you; and one day, you will posses him again.  This is a great consolation that I have experienced myself, and which I still feel. 

When I had to close the eyes of my dear children and bury them, I felt deep sorrow, but I was always resigned to it.  I did not regret the pains and the sorrows which I had endured for them.  Many persons said to me: "It would have been better for you if you had never had them."  I could not bear that kind of talk.  I do not think that the sorrows and the troubles endured could possibly be compared with the eternal happiness of my children with God.  Besides, they are not lost to me forever; life is short and filled with crosses, and we shall find them again in Heaven.

France, 1870.  From a letter written by Bl. Zelie Martin, mother of St. Therese of Lisieux, to comfort her sister-in-law after she experienced the loss of a child at birth.  Bl. Zelie Martin, and her husband Bl. Louis Martin, lost three children in the first year of life and another at age five. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

A Brew, An Apple, and a Busy Week #7QT

So, I had this crazy idea.  And I talked to a couple other bloggers and either A) they are crazy too or B) the idea wasn't so crazy after all.  Jenna (Call Her Happy), Carolyn (Svellerella), and I have created a Facebook group, The Catholic Brew, where we'll be sharing blog posts, random updates, articles we like and just plain old conversing with our readers.  And our readers can converse with each other.  Community, you know?  Interested in joining?  Click here.

Shabby Apple is basically my favorite store.  Never mind that I currently don't own anything from it.  I've been virtual window browsing for years.  But today, I buy!  There is a Shabby Apple sale on Zulily and because I hemmed and hawed and ended up not buying the jammies I raved about last week, I have a Zulily credit to apply to my order.  I'm thinking either the top middle one (Floral Neap Tide) or the top right (Yellow Tulleries).  Which one do you think?  There are about a million others on the page (and some skirts and tops), but I'm not even going to look anymore because I'm infamously indecisive and I do not need to have more in the running.  If you're in the market for some new wardrobe pieces, check out the sale here.

We have an uncharacteristically busy week coming up, starting tonight.  The plans include: a school play, our first Creighton class, a park play date with some out of state friends, the Ignited by Truth conference (where I'll get to hear our lovely host, Jen, give a few talks), a birthday party, and probably some other things I'm missing.  This may not seems like a lot for most people to do in a little over a week, but I'm a bit of a hermit, more by circumstance and laziness than real choice.  I'm looking forward to getting out and about, but not looking forward to paying babysitters. 

Other than a St. Patrick's Party on Monday (which I have a post brewing about), this week was a fairly slow week.  I've been really pleased with my productivity though.  I've done a ton of housecleaning and made my first corned beef and cabbage meal and even remembered to read liturgically themed books to Lucia (our St. Joseph books is probably way too advanced for her, but I read it while she was playing anyway).  Naps have been going better because I've been more diligent about making it happen.  (As we speak, I have two toddler napping simultaneously.  Super win!)  It has just felt so good to be productive and to end my day tired because I've been working hard.  I feel very much back in the swing of life and feel like perhaps our survival mode is coming to an end.  Thank the Lord!

Another thing that really brightened the week was the pregnancy loss support group I attended on Wednesday.  It sounds strange to say a group where women sit in a circle and talk about the loss of their children was a bright spot, but it really was.  It is very much out of my comfort zone to attend new groups of any kind, but I am so glad I forced myself to go.  I definitely see the work of the Holy Spirit in just getting me out the door.  The amount of support and courage and faith in that room was amazing.  Also, I came home with a couple new favorite scriptures.  I'm thinking of printing and framing my favorite:


I'm reading a book on Bl. Zelie Martin, the mother of St. Therese of Lisieux.  (This book, since several people have asked.)  I've found it extremely interesting, not only reading about her life and parenting but just learning a bit about the time she lived.  She went to visit her baby who was rooming in with the wet nurse!  I also found it fascinating and heartening that she married at age 27 and still had nine children.  And she was an entrepreneur with her own lace business and workers under her, a business she built before getting married.  That has to be somewhat rare in her day.  I think she'd be an incredible Patron Saint for working moms.

Several of you have recently asked how I'm doing in relation to my miscarriages.  Thank you all for your love and concern.  My automatic response is to say I'm doing ok and there are times when that's the truth.  I wrote this post on Sunday about how I was feeling at peace.  But then the last few days have been super tough.  In fact, I've spent most of today crying.  Thank goodness Lucia's friend Mary Margaret comes here on Fridays - they keep each other distracted and I don't think either noticed the crying.  

I'm not sharing this because I want kind words or sympathy.  I don't think there is anything that would really help at the moment.  I'm simply sharing this because I want to give an honest answer.  I don't want anyone to think, "Oh, she's doing so great a month later!" because I want you to know that if you've gone through something similar that it's ok to still be crying a month later.  I am.  I imagine that on special occasions or particular dates, I'll still find myself crying years from now.

Some people are able to heal more quickly.  If that describes you, I also don't want to you think, "What's wrong with me?  I should still be mourning!"  Because you shouldn't be doing anything specific.  There are no rules, ok?  Grieve how you grieve and give yourself permission to do so.  Easier said than done.  I'm working on it too. 

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

You Have Only to Keep Still

Last night, I went to a pregnancy loss support group.  I'd be remiss if I didn't say that I was quite nervous to go.  It was heartbreaking to hear other women share their losses, but it was intensely comforting to know that I'm not alone.  Maybe I'll share more of my experiences in the future, but for now, I just want to share two quotes that the group leader shared and that have been lodged in my soul.

 The Lord will fight for you; you have only to keep still. -Exodus 14:14

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. - Jeremiah 29:11

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Five Favorite Usborne Books

I'm hosting an online Usborne Book party right now and I thought this would be a great time to share how much I love Usborne book!

La cama grande de SofĂ­a

My favorite Usborne book is this little Spanish book. It's the cutest little book about a little girl who is nervous about leaving her crib for a bed. We read it all the time especially now that Lucia is just transitioning to her big girl bed. We also sent it to our goddaughter who is a month younger than Lucia and her name is...Sofia! (And she speaks Spanish.) I also love that this book isn't a board book, but the pages are much thicker than regular pages so they can't be torn by toddler fingers. I know not all of you speak Spanish, but if you do, as a mom and a former Spanish teacher, I love the Spanish books offered by Usborne!

Sticker Books

Lucia has this sticker book and LOVES it.  A little birdie told me she might be getting the Easter First Sticker book and the Colors Sticker book in her Easter basket.  I also have my eye on the wipe off books.  In fact, Usborne has about a million activity books that I have my eye on.
Lucia has the First Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Life and loves it.  The Usborne non-fiction books are awesome for curious toddlers and (I hear) homeschooling.  David can't wait to use several of the science titles with Lulu once she gets a bit older.

 Story Collections

These two are on my wish list, but there are so many other collections of pirate stories and princess stories and stories for boys and stories for girls and some illustrated classics.  Gorgeous books for your bookshelf!

Patterns Coloring Books

Is it embarrassing to admit that I want these coloring books for me? I love coloring to relax but the simple little cartoons in Lucia's coloring books don't do it for me.  I adore just coloring patterns.  And lo and behold, there are whole coloring books of them.  Art Deco and Art Nouveau and Christmas Patterns.  I want them all!

If you want to chat with Molly (of Molly Makes Do) and me about books, the live party is on Facebook on Saturday at 9 EST.  You can RSVP here.  You can buy these and other Usborne books through my party link here.

Linking up with the lovely Hallie.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

WIWS: I'm 27, not pregnant, an ESFP, & got the best birthday present ever.

First thing's first.  What I wore:

sweater: Gap
skirt: The Limited (acquired last night at an upscale consignment shop)
shoes: from my grandma
pasty legs (that I mercifully cut out from the first picture): winter
headband: Lilla Rose

It was pretty exciting to attend Mass together as a family (first time in two months between me being unwell and Lucia being sick) and Lucia was mostly well behaved (Mass behavior: B) so that was a pretty nice birthday gift in itself. But not the best birthday gift.  Read on.

Before you think the title about not being pregnant is me getting mopey about my miscarriages, it's not.  I know that I have every right to still be mopey if I want to be, but I don't.  I turn 27 today and I'm feeling pretty darn good.  There will still be bad days, I know that, and I specifically expect my due dates/months to be quite hard, but it seems as if the good days far outnumber the bad right now.  

There will be no babies while I'm 27.  I know that and, somehow, knowing that takes a lot of pressure off of me.  If everything goes well, there will be a baby when I'm 28, or if it doesn't, maybe later.  Or not at all, I acknowledge that is a possibility.  As it stands, there will be no babies this next year for me, most likely we will not even try for baby until my 27th year is almost over, so I can breath a little sigh of relief.  Trying to conceive is stressful for me and being pregnant is stressful now that I've experienced losses, but I don't have to worry about those this year.  This is a year of respite.  Instead of being bitter about having to wait, I'm embracing this gift of rest.  Boy, do I need it.

Anyway, the title isn't about those things.  It's about this fun conversation (which you may have already seen if you like me on facebook):

spa employee: Are you pregnant?
me: No.
her: Oh, well, the way you are sitting makes your stomach look big.  

Um, thanks?  I thought we as a society agreed that the pregnancy question is the question that shall not be spoken Seriously, even if I did/do look pregnant (which I'm hoping I did/do not), I would have looked maybe three months pregnant.  Not obvious.  "Maybe she's pregnant or maybe she has a little bit o' a belly and had a big lunch," NOT "Is she going to pop at any moment?"  And in case you were wondering, I was not her client so her rude comment didn't have any bearing on her tip. 

So there's that.  I did not let that ruin my spa day.  The spa day that David sent me off to while he stayed home with Lucia and did the taxes.  Have I mentioned lately how amazing and self-sacrificing my husband is?  No?  Well, I should do that more, especially since he reads this blog.  (Another act of self-sacrifice.)

Spa day was still not my favorite birthday present this year.  If you look at my pictures above, you may notice Lucia's cute dress.  But the most important thing she is wearing is not her dress, but what is under the dress.  Panties!  We took Lucia out to dinner with us for her first diaperless outing last night and it went swell.  So today she went to Mass and the store sans diaper and she did awesome.  Telling us and using the bathroom when she needed to.  No accidents.  The idea of no more diapers is thrilling.  Best birthday present ever!

Since I am now finally an adult of 27 (because that's when society would like convince everyone adulthood first starts), I decided my first act as an adult should be finally deciding what my Myers-Briggs personality type is.  So, despite the million times I have tried to take a MB test before, I finally sat down and just read the differences between each dichotomy and chose which one I was more like.  Basically, if there are six things to describe each one, I identify with three of one and three of the other (which is what the problem has always been, I'm not very extreme about anything) but I just chose one or the other and called it a day.  I'm guessing the outcome will be drastically different next time I do the same.  (In fact, I remember once identifying myself is INTP which is almost the exact opposite, though perhaps that shows I am indeed a Perceiving personality.)  But now, I get to look at all those fancy grids of Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter or The Little Mermaid characters and match up my MB personality type with theirs and find out who my silver screen soul sister (or brother) is.  And to think, I waited all these years.  That in itself guarantees 27 is going to be grand.

Except for the fact that I'm no longer carded when I order a margarita.  Which means I look over 30...or the waiters are lazy.  But as long as you don't ask if I'm pregnant, I don't mind if you don't card me.  Deal?  

Linking up with Fine Linen & Purple.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Whispering Random Nothings of Fridays and St. Patrick and Books and Everything, Like, Such As #7QT

Name that titular reference to pop culture and we might just be able to be friends. 

Have I ever mentioned that David uses a different nickname pretty much every time he addresses Lucia and me?  It's very obvious that he makes them up on the spot.  Sometimes they are really cute and sweet, other times  they are...questionable.  The other night he asked, "Can you help me move Lady Longtail to her bed?"  Still not sure how I feel about that one.

I finally took my sewing machine out of the box.  I got it for Christmas...of 2012.  I've been wanting to learn to sew since I was a little girl but have felt like I just haven't had the time to devote to learning the basics.  Well, no more.  I figured it would be helpful for me to have a hobby to keep me busy over the next year or so while we wait to conceive again.  I think that women have an innate desire to create and if we are not able to create life, it's helpful to channel that creativity into other areas.  I feel like I still have to get several of the "sewing things" (scissors and needles and bobbins and thread and fabric...and...and...) before I can start but it is going to happen soon

I have a post brewing about the Eminem/Rihanna song "Love the Way You Lie".  In many ways, this post is several years in the making and I've started writing it several times, but I've never quite completed it.  I've not talked much about it, but I was in a very damaging relationship for years while I was in college, and while it's not something I often talk about, I still sometime notice the scars I carry with me.  Years ago, I started a Broken series about damaging relationships.  That series has been collecting dust, but I'm feeling ready to finally share my own story.

Fridays are my favorite weekday.  Mostly because Laura's Mary Margaret spends the day with us.  (Laura's blogging again, so check it.)  I've been asking some advice from other moms recently because Lucia is so needy-needy, clingy-clingy all the time and I can't get anything done during the day because I can't be more than an inch and a half away from her at all times.  From what I gathered, it's pretty common for firstborns to be this way though, obviously, temperament plays into it a bit.  Anyway, when Mary Margaret is here, Lucia is very content playing with terrorizing her all day and mama gets a little bit of a break.  So win-win all around there.  It gives me a little taste of what it would be like to have two kids close together in age (as much as 8 hours a week can give you any real indication of anything - I'm fairly certain I get all the benefits and none of the difficulties in those 8 hours) and I have to agree with the many people who have told me that the best way to stop your child from being so dependent is to give them a sibling to play with.  Not helpful advice, but seemingly accurate. 

Another reason I love Friday is probably the reason most people like Friday - it's almost the weekend!  I've heard a lot of people snicker when stay-at-home moms say they like the weekends, because isn't every day a weekend for a stay-at-home mom?  Ha ha.  Ha ha ha ha.  Not quite.  Plus, I just miss my husband every second he's at work and summer cannot come soon enough.  Every day all day with him sounds like heaven.  

I look forward to the weekend even when I don't have any plans, but this weekend is looking to be better than most.  Sunday is my birthday and tomorrow David is treating me to a spa day while he watches Lucia and does the taxes.  I usually insist that David gets me nothing or next to nothing for my birthday because, even though my love language is gifts, I hate the thought of money being spent on me.  But this year I relented.  I have a feeling that I'm not going to be thinking about the money spent as my worries are massaged away.

If you are looking for some St. Patrick's Day picture books, here are three we're enjoying right now:

(Not affiliate links.  If you are going to order any of these through, please click through the blog of your favorite blogger with Amazon affiliates before making your purchase.  It's a great way to support a blogger without doing anything you wouldn't already do.  Let me know if you'd like a list of my favorite bloggers who have Amazon affiliates.)

Speaking of books, I'm hosting an Usborne Book party online.  My friend Molly of Molly Makes Do recently became an Usborne consultant and when she asked me about doing the party I couldn't think of a reason why I wouldn't want to share my favorite book company with friends.  I really am not exaggerating when I say that I absolutely love Usborne books.  Lucia has several, including her favorite ever sticker book (and a little birdie told me she's going to be getting the Easter Sticker book in her Easter basket).  If you'd like to join the Facebook event to ask questions, learn more about Usborne, get personalized book recommendations from Molly, and possibly win prizes, you can RSVP here.  Or shop my party at the Usborne website here

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Pregnancy Loss: Siblings & St. Therese

I'm reading the autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux, The Story of a Soul, and came across a particular passage that really touched me as a mother who recently lost two children in the womb.  She wrote:
After Marie entered the Carmel, and I no longer had her to listen to my scruples, I turned towards Heaven and confided them to the four little angels who had already gone before me, for I thought that these innocent souls, who had never known sorrow or fear, ought to have pity on their poor little suffering sister. I talked to them with childish simplicity, telling them that, as I was the youngest of the family, I had always been the most petted and loved by my parents and sisters; that if they had remained on earth they would no doubt have given me the same proofs of their affection.  The fact that they had gone to Heaven seemed no reason why they should forget me--on the contrary, as they were able to draw from the treasury of Heaven, they ought to obtain for me the grace of peace, and prove that they still knew how to love me. 

The answer was not long in coming; soon my soul was flooded with the sweetest peace. I knew that I was loved, not only on earth but also in Heaven.  From that time my devotion for these little brothers and sisters increased; I loved to talk to them and tell them of all the sorrows of this exile, and of my wish to join them soon in our Eternal Home.

St. Therese's siblings did not die during pregnancy, but they did die in infancy/early childhood.  Therese, being the youngest of the family, never knew them and yet she knew of them and was able to form a relationship with them.  From a young age, she loved them.  She felt their love for her.  They continued to be a part of her life. 

I've been struggling quite a bit thinking of how we are going to talk about our babies with Lucia.  We told her that I was pregnant as soon as I found out and we told her afterward that the babies had gone to heaven, but I'm fairly certain she no longer remembers.  She also currently has no understanding of death or heaven or even of siblings.  So we haven't talked to her about her siblings since our last loss.  I'm not sure if we'll continue to be silent for a while until she has a greater understanding of these concepts or if we'll start bringing them up, perhaps during her nightly prayers.  What I am sure of is that I want her to have a relationship with her siblings like St. Therese had with hers, based on love and faith.

You can download a free copy of The Story of a Soul for Kindle here.  (You do not need a Kindle to do so, you can download the free Kindle Reading App to your computer, phone, or tablet.)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Five Faves: Pretty PJs, Missing Tails, & a Big Girl Bed

I had a wonderful, beautiful day yesterday.  It was nothing special; in fact, Lucia was sick and I was a bit exhausted from being up with her all night.  But we we able to go on a walk in the beautiful sunny, warm weather, I was able to read much of the day in front of the open window, and I was feeling more hopeful and joyful than I have felt in quite some time.  It feels like the fog has lifted and we are entering a more peaceful season as a family.  While I'm in such a joyous mood, I thought I might join Hallie's Five Favorites share a few things that have been making me smile recently. 

- one -
 Darling Sleepwear

Are these not the cutest jammies ever?  They remind of something hostess Hallie would love.  I've been in the market for some new pajamas for a while now but I'm so picky that I can never find anything I like.  I am always window shopping at Zulily for jammies and other wardrobe basics (I have a $20 credit burning a hole in my pocket) and these are by far the best I've ever seen. I probably should get something a little more practical, but my birthday is coming up this weekend so maybe I should just splurge a little?

- two -
Pooh Bear & Missing Tails

I am pleased to share that reading Winnie-the-Pooh with Lucia is going quite well.  The first few days, her attention span wasn't much but it's increased each day and she certainly is remembering parts of the story.  One funny conversation from reading the other day:

I was reading the part where Pooh notices Eeyore lost his tail.
Lucia: Poor Eeyore! Loss his tay-oh!
Me: What a good friend Pooh is for offering to look for it!
Lucia: (patting her bum frantically) Oh no! I loss my tay-oh too! Mommy, where my tay-oh?

Randomly while at a church potluck last Saturday night, she remembered her missing tail and announced it a very loud, very upset voice.  You should have seen the look on the face of the woman sitting at our table.  She was horrified.  Good thing it didn't come up that we plan to homeschool because I'm fairly certain she thought I teach my child that humans have tails.

- three -
Surprising Myself

Have you ever found something you enjoyed doing by accident?  A while back, I had someone ask if I would do a review/giveaway of Lilla Rose hair accessories.  I loved them, especially my headband.  Then I lost it.  When I contacted my consultant, Anjanette, asking if there were any sales/promotions because I would be ordering a new one, she mentioned that there was free shipping on the sign up kits, maybe I was interested in becoming a consultant so I could get a discount for myself?  So I did.  I had no intention of doing anything with it other than throwing up a little button on my blog and buying for my own friends and family.  But then I made a Facebook page and before I knew it I had signed up to sell at my church's Christmas Bazaar.  I am not a sales person.  Not at all.  I would never imagine myself doing this.  But I'm having so much fun!  And yet I think, "I sell hair accessories for a direct sales company," and it still sounds so silly.  That's not me!  That's not something I would like doing!  But it is and I do.  Weird.
- four -
Big Girl Bed

Lucia recently helped David convert her crib into a toddler bed.  She was so happy to help Daddy and use tools.  She was not as enthused about her "big girl bed".  David's has still been putting her down at night in our bed and then we've been moving her to her room after she's fallen asleep.  But on Monday night, she asked to go to sleep in her own bed! She has a cold, so she came into our room before too long, but it's a start!  I miss having her in our bed sometimes, but I'm really enjoying the extra space.

- five -
Our Local Library

A few days ago, I went on the library website and requested 20+ Easter picture books for Lucia, mostly using this list and this one as a guide.  I was pleasantly surprised by how many books from those lists the library carried.  I threw in a few St. Patrick's books too for good measure.  I had wanted to get some St. Joseph books in light of his feast day next week but alas, there were none.   I still need to order a Stations of the Cross book for Lucia (our library didn't have any), so maybe I'll see if I can find a nice St. Joseph one to add as well.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

What Bird Poop Taught Me About Being An Adult

Last night, after David put Lucia to sleep and drifted off himself, I was thinking of the time a bird pooped on my mom's head.  I know what you are thinking: "Real deep thoughts you have in your private time, Mandi."  But I promise, this is going somewhere.  

My mom was dropping me off at school.  I must have had a dentist appointment or something because my mom had to walk in with me (normally, she just pulled up in the carpool line and I got out on my own).  Anyway, we were walking in and it just happened.  All of a sudden, my mom's hair was covered in poop.  The bird got her good.  And I remember my mom laughed about it and got a napkin out of her car and just wiped what she could out of her hair (the napkin really didn't do much good).  Then she walked me in.  

a likely offender
I don't know what happened after that - did she go home and shower or go straight to work?  But what I do know was that she handled it with such poise.  She laughed it off.  She didn't act disgusted.  She wasn't embarrassed.  She just was.  

That's what I thought adults were like - calm, undisturbed, and able to handle anything.  I think of that now and my goodness, I hope I'm not the only adult that feels the complete opposite of that!  Growing up, I always thought there was this magic age when you just had it together and yet I always seemed to never get there.  When I was in middle school, high school students were so smart and confident and sure of their future.  Then when I got to high school, I felt so awkward and unsure and self-conscious.  

I've felt like that at every step of my life.  In college, I didn't feel like a college student.  In my first teaching job, I didn't feel like a teacher.  In some ways, I've lived my entire life feeling like an imposter.  I keep waiting for someone to find out that I'm not really supposed to be there, to notice that I don't really have what it takes.  

It wasn't until recently that I realized there are many other people out there that feel exactly the same way.  No matter what they've done to get to where they are, they always second guess that that is where they are meant to be.  

I turn 27 this weekend.  But in my mind, that's impossible.  Isn't a 27 year old well into adulthood?  Yet I still don't feel like an adult much of the time.  I'm afraid of so many things.  I don't have my act together.  I never know what to do in difficult situations.  I am still so insecure.  I'm not sure I even know who I am.  I can't even tell you if I'm an introvert or an extrovert!  Clearly, I'm not really an adult.  I look like an adult.  (I'm rarely even carded anymore.  Boo.)  But I can't be one.  This isn't what adults are like, right?

Then I think back to my day yesterday.  Lucia is sick.  Again.  As I was putting her down for a nap, she suddenly sat up and puked all over our bed.  I comforted her.  I took off her clothes.  I stripped the bed and got everything into the wash.  Lucia got a bath.  I got her down for nap.  In the moment, I performed.  I did what needed to be done.  I didn't hesitate or stress.  I was an adult.  

If a bird pooped in my hair, I don't know if I would have the same good humor my mom did.  But if Lucia needed to get into school, I would walk right up the the front desk with bird poop in my hair.  To my little girl, I would look like a fearless, unflappable adult.  

Is there a way to break this cycle?  How can I teach my daughter that adults are vulnerable too so that when she is an adult she can be confident in her self?  How do I teach her that I am still learning and growing, that I'm not always confident and that's okay, while at the same time providing her with a solid sense of security? 


I'm honored to be a new contributor at Faith in All Times, a website for Catholic women struggling with infertility and miscarriage.  You can see my contributor profile here and read my first essay, "Finding God in Modern Medicine" here.