Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The 2015 Resolutions List

Okay, resolutions are pie crust promises. But pie crust tastes good, and I'm not going to stop making (or eating) them. So here it goes.

Jump back on the reading a book every week train. This doesn't mean I finish the book; it means I read something on paper, outside U.S. History and magazines in doctor's offices.

Create an exercise schedule that is doable, not ideal. Like, my pregnancy DVD at 7:30 p.m. Half hour - and Grace loves playing along!

Not make so many excuses. Discipline originates in the Latin discere - "to learn" - and it is definitely something I need to study harder.

And that means... primp my prayer life. We live in the modern age. Prayers are at our finger-tips and on apps, as well as in physical books. My parents gave me a new study Bible for Christmas. I don't know what my plan is or my goal, but I do know that the Devil does everything in his power to distract us from what is true, and good, and worthy of our attention. And sometimes, we let him win out of laziness. I know I do.

Continue to cultivate beauty. Especially around our home! Read poetry, work on organization, laugh more, accept more (worry less), and be okay and happy. Cook more. Perfect less. Enjoy it all, even what's not preferable. Few things are worth the tizzy.

And it goes without saying: practice gratitude. 2015 means a new baby, work for husband and myself, a happy baby-to-toddler, and so many blessings in the rubble.

Any resolvers out there?

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Master of My Fate

"Invictus" by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
      Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
      For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
      I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
      My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
      Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
      Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
      How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
      I am the captain of my soul.


I am up late, finishing changing the dates for my US History class, Spring Semester. I am thinking about sending the above poem to my students as a reminder that they are more than their grades, and still responsible for turning in their papers and quizzes on time, as well as following procedure. But another day...

Will is on break, and it feels really, really good to have him around. My family is visiting from Ohio, and it feels really, really good to have them around. I am napping a lot and that feels really good too.

Today, Will, Grace and I had our first ever family portraits done. They turned out well, and I am excited to pick up the cd and copies in about two weeks. Here is Grace getting ready for her close-ups:

I am not thinking about Will starting MICU this Friday, and I am definitely not thinking about all the work I need to get done before sweet Bebe Deux is born in February.

I am staying up late with my sisters, watching The Grand Budapest Hotel, talking about life, and talking about nothing. I am enjoying my vacation. I hope you are too.

I am the master of my fate! I am the captain of my soul.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Two Years of Real

Today, two years ago, I married William Baldwin. I felt very prepared. Perhaps that isn't the most romantic way of putting it, but it's the truest thing.

Will and I met at a New Year's Day party in Louisville, KY - he was wearing a black button down with stripes and his dark jeans, and I was wearing a black long sleeve shirt, herringbone skirt, black tights with leopard print kitten heels. We were the first ones at the party - high school friends of his, college friends of mine. We talked on and off all night, including a debate about the purpose of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church and me semi-briefly monologuing about why Calvin Coolidge is my favorite president. I remember he was intrigued that I played lacrosse in high school, and I loved that he plays tennis.

In the beginning, there was the date.

Our first date was about a month later, at the Creationist Museum, and ended up lasting over 24 hours: we got pizza for lunch back in Cincinnati (30 minutes from the museum), we sat around the table chatting with my mom and younger siblings till the early evening, when my mom asked Will if he wanted to just stay over in the guest room - meant we had dinner, played cards and watched Doctor Who with my sisters (whom I was babysitting while my parents were at a party), and more fun conversations.

Then, there were the follow-up dates. 

Our second date, we did fun things in Louisville and back in his Indiana hometown across the Ohio River, like play tennis, eat his favorite pizza, play Dictionary with a few of his friends, watch Firefly for the first time, met his parents and grandfather (I spent the night too to compensate for the distance) and attended mass before Chinese buffet for lunch.

Even typing it out, I realize how atypical these first two dates were; but they only cement to me how comfortable we were with each other from the beginning, and that is truly a gift I do not take for granted. Part of that, I think, is for want of a real connection and for a willingness to put the "real" you out there - as well as the willingness to say goodbye.

Will, the one who never made me wonder (and always answers my questions)

Will is always honest with me - on our fourth date, he said we weren't boyfriend/ girlfriend yet. He encouraged me to date other people - until two months later, when I wrote him a short letter explaining I didn't want to see other people, and how I wanted to only date him. Will still has that letter in his car, in a side shelf on the driver's side.

His honesty with me could be chalked up to the fact that if we broke up, we never had to see or hear from each other again. Besides our two {original} mutual friends, we had no connections. We lived in different states, pursued different interests and careers, and would never be "just friends."

But it wasn't that: Will is honest, always. He's honest with others, and he's honest with himself. He put his cards on the table, and I respect that because I am still trying to be that honest with myself. Will sees me and exactly who I am, and he loves me and respects me. He sees my weaknesses, and doesn't exploit them. Where I am sensitive, he encourages me. He sees my strengths and honors them. He teases me and makes me want to always be a much, much, much better person.

We began discussing marriage six months after dating. For us - a medical student and a post-collegiate employed person, the timing was appropriate. We were 23 and 24. We went through a marriage book and covered every topic imaginable. A married guy friend of mine teased me about how unromantic it was that we were talking about everything - no surprises, he said.

But Will surprises me every day with his thoughtfulness and love. We don't argue. We might disagree on how to do laundry, but knowing that all non-negotiable are on the table and accounted for has helped me come to the realization that this marriage is more than two people who love each other: this marriage is real.

What is real?

I've been thinking a lot about "real". So much of life can feel like a theoretical - and even in marriage and the preparation that comes before it, nothing is guaranteed. You can love each other - theoretically. You can put God at the center - theoretically. This is why faith and works must support each other; this is why faith and reason must be interdependent.

It is not good for man to be alone - which is not to say that everyone must get married, but that community is the lifeblood of humans. We strive to uphold family relationships, friendships, and to do unto others.

I went into this marriage feeling my love of Will, and two years later, I know it even better. I do not just hear it - I experience it. It was a hard transition in some ways - he is not a presents or gestures person, or a naturally talkative person (whereas I am). I've learned his ways are not mine - and how genuine love cannot always be seen. What makes our marriage real every day is the way we re-affirm it to each other: our words, our actions, our intentions.

Marriage isn't easy, because life isn't easy. There is always going to be some sort of curve ball, and it's our job as husband and wife to swing together.

June 2014 - before residency!
I think a lot about all the curve balls in our marriage - mostly because it is our actions that define the moment. It is our words that nourish love. Will and I recognize that we are both individuals who still have a lot to learn about the other person - I like not presuming I know everything about Will. I like peppering him with questions about his thoughts and feelings because I want to know. I like bouncing between the mundane and marvelous with him. I appreciate the sacrifices he makes (he's working this entire Christmas week, for anyone who needs him!), and he lets me know how important I am to him, and what a wonderful mother I am to Grace and bebe.

In this season of Advent, as we await the Incarnation, I am reminded of the incarnational love of marriage. I need these reminders in my loneliness. These reminders are pictures, my wedding rings, our child, my ballooning belly and the bebe who kicks inside (31 weeks!!); the house I clean up every day because we share it and we're building our lives together within its walls.

I like to reflect on the Holy Family during the day - Joseph and Mary traveled long distances and toiled together too; they gave birth far from family too. They were newlyweds seeking a life beyond fear - to live simply, to go about our work as good and noble, to raise our children in love and for God, and with each other.

Christmas 2011

Christmas 2012

Christmas 2013
Christmas 2014
Will, I love you. I can't wait for our schedules to align better. My heart leaps for joy the way Grace crawls around the house now, and goes to the stairs and calls "Da!!" because she thinks you're just in your office, not at the hospital. I am not sorry I beat you in CandyLand, and one day I'll beat you in Monopoly. Here's to all our adventures, and the ones to come! Happy anniversary, my darling husband.

Your loving wife,

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Thing About Residency

Last night, Will and I put Grace to bed and had our first moments of alone time... barely, before Will had to leave to go to work until 7 a.m. I became a barnacle while he talked to me, and before I went downstairs to fix his dinner and coffee, I begged him not to go.

"Okay, I'll just quit my job," he said, hugging me.

"Wait," I replied, turning my head out of his chest. "I can't support you and your extravagant lifestyle. I'll fix your sandwich."

My card sharks
It's the joke that always gets a smile - quitting residency, even though it's what we've talked about since our dating days. The promise of residency started this marriage during medical school. Two graduations later, here we are: and I am ready to be done. Yes I, who only venture into the hospital to provide Dr. Husband with sustenance during long shifts, accompany him while he returns a library book, or wait for him in the lobby to meet us post-shift (if someone - could be Grace, could be me - is feeling the cabin fever), am tired of residency.

Five months in, and it's really not so bad. Will's rotations haven't been the worst, just different. Okay, some of them are the worst. I'm not a fan of these overnights, but this week, he only has three in a row plus a 4 pm to 2 am shift. I think logging is the real time snatcher - hours spent with patient files, detailed and signed. Oh, and having to go from an overnight shift to grand rounds, like husband will do tomorrow.

It always seems like the better thing to do - quitting. I get tired of therapy, tired of teaching classes, tired of Grace's teething interrupting her nap schedule... and then wondering how I'm going to handle the second sweet thing in a few months. Ug, where is my desert island with a Wegmans and an internet connection? When can I nap without a baby monitor?

Then Will tells me about his patients. He tells me the funny stories and the sad stories. He tells me of cases he's proud of, and what he needs to work on.

I tell him about my day - what Grace is eating, how well she's self-feeding (and what she's throwing off her tray today), how therapy went that day (and other general activities we've done together), what I taught during class, how my work load is treating me, and anything I've read that day or thoughts I toss around for discussion.

Using a spoon is so two minutes ago...
Some days, we see each other for a few hours. Other days, the whole day. Today was less time than usual, but more than yesterday. I like doing simple chores with him - cleaning the kitchen, tidying up, feeding Grace dinner, playing with Grace and reading to Grace. After a day of "go-go-go", even being together feels relaxing.

Then he's back at work, and I'm at home, half-working on a powerpoint for my younger kids, and half-blogging. And I realize how lucky we are to be on this journey together. A classmate of Will's has been sick for the past few months, working himself to the bare minimum. I made extra soup, loaded up some favorite sick foods and drinks, and texted him stop over on his way home (we live by the hospital). He kept saying we were being too nice, but why pursue medicine if not to help heal the body--and soul too? To add a quality to another's life?

The thing about residency is that it is hard - yes. This is the last stage of training for doctors. Will calls this the "hand-holding" stage. In medical school, you mostly observed and sometimes got to sew someone up. In residency, you're officially an M.D. with a prescription pad and both you and the patient have the deer in headlights look: What's wrong? No, I'm asking you. Oh, you're asking me?

The other thing about residency is that it is worth it: the kind of satisfaction Will gets from helping his patients is obvious by how hard he studies those ridiculously thick books with little lettering. He's reading his ICU book this month for next month's rotation. He wants to be able - more than capable, more than confident - and the more I think about it, that's what a lot of us strive for, if we choose the challenge.

The ability to be, and do. I love teaching my students. I love talking about history and doing Socratic method discussion. It's not enough to memorize - context is king, understanding is relevant. The same goes for being a mom: do I wish Grace would stop pulling my hair and trying to swipe my glasses? Absolutely. But I can never wish her other than what she is, because taking care of my baby - especially through the harder days - is what gives me deeper purpose. It reminds me that I am here to serve. We are all here to serve

At a dear friend's wedding a few months ago, the song after communion was "The Servant Song"; it was breathtaking way to begin their marriage:

"Will you let me be your servant? Let me as Christ to you? Pray that I may have the grace to let you be my servant too."

As Will and I approach our second anniversary, we feel our marriage is stronger. We have always loved each other, and in two years, that love has manifested in many different acts: the way he takes care of me when I am preggo-nauseous, the way I make sure he eats, our mutual love of playing with Grace, and the way we rely on each other so completely. Will has a complete servant heart, whether he is with a friend, with family, or at work with a colleague or patient. He is a doer - he leads by doing. He blesses me daily with his goodness, love and support, and I have learned to let him take care of me too.

This servant's heart of his is why I try not to bemoan his shift work, or electives. He is learning to better serve the people of our community, and future communities. Many of Will's cases in the emergency room are not emergencies - but they are emotionally urgent for the families. The baby with a low-grade fever who wouldn't stop crying at 3 a.m. The 91 year old lady he spent four hours trying to resuscitate. The statutory rape victim who is 28 weeks pregnant (same as me). The woman who miscarried at 13 weeks. The traumas, the abdominal pains, the headaches.

"We are pilgrims on a journey, we are brothers on the road. We are here to help each other, walk the line and bear the load."

Residency feels hard for the spouse at home, watching the clock, bearing the load of laundry (my nemesis), unloading and re-loading the dishwasher, and forever tidying the same room over and over again, like Sisyphus pushing his rock up the mountain (only to have it roll back to the bottom!). It is essential that I recognize how good my work is too, though I don't need a specialized degree or license to act upon it. I can emotionally support him on the tough days, and provide a safe, loving home. And we hope, by example, that we will teach our children what it means to serve and love, and be able to graciously accept service and love in return.

Monday, December 8, 2014

GHB: Lately

Grace pulling up to stand on her own...

Grace patting the belly/ saying hello to her baby sister...

Grace refusing to nap/ visiting Dad at the hospital...

Grace saying "my turn!"

Grace relaxing (a personal favorite activity of mine as well)!

I'm finally caught up on grading (don't worry, my AP kids are turning in another essay by tomorrow), Will is working overnight, freezing rains are expected during the next 24 hours, and I'm 28 weeks preggo with no pictures to prove it.

It's the second week of Advent - I am trying to read daily Scripture and a chapter of The Christmas Mystery to the "very interested" Grace. I'm listening to the Christmas Carols station on Pandora and trying to keep up with the laundry, let alone decorating. (Our tree is up!) We spent most of mass tonight in the quiet box because Grace decided to test her mezzo-soprano potential, and it's Will's new favorite place. Fortunately, Grace decided to ham it up for the couple behind us, and we could rejoin the pew after communion.

Happy feast of the Immaculate Conception!

TIC: Imagination and Children with Special Needs

Today at The Imaginative Conservative...

Her therapists rave about her crawling and how awesome she is at “weight bearing” on her right side. And is not that what we strive for in this life— to bear the weight of glory?
“For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:15-18)
“Hard” is not the standard by which we should judge our life. Easy is not a virtue as much as it can be a pathway. It is worthwhile to live out the divine love in our fallenness because love is good, love is true, love is beautiful. Love can make the road harder, and it can also make the road purposeful. Parenting in love is imagining beyond reality–not in a delusional way, but a hopeful way, a possible way.

Parents with children who have special needs (“children” should always go before the “special needs”) must see beyond the daily frustrations, past other children meeting milestones, and relish the achievements of the individual. By educating themselves on developmental trials and stages, parents are able to see a wider picture of what their child is doing, and where their child is going. Some children will not progress at the same rate as Grace, even with help. This is a different kind of trial. Some children do not have a clear diagnosis—another hurdle. Whatever the circumstances, parents must be their child’s biggest supporter. There is nothing outside therapy can achieve if parents are not in the forefront of teaching, loving, and playing with their child.

At our friends A&C's wedding (9/14)
This is not a time for theories or to bemoan your parental lot that you have to try harder; your child has to try the hardest. This is a time of action. This is the time to support other parents (and be supported), to smile at the day and love your child. Love through words, love through actions. Paralyzing fear or laziness has no place in the day of us parents whose children are fueled by that compassion and zeal.

Even when she fusses, we have learned to push Grace a little harder to see what she can do. I have learned how to stretch my daughter and how to massage her. I myself have been stretched beyond my comfort zone. I have had to overcome my own fear of not being the best thing for my daughter. But a therapist cannot encourage, love, and teach my daughter the way I can, every day. I am the one who feeds her, changes her, takes her on errands. I soothe her, sing to her, pray with her, and read to her. We smile, laugh, and have fun together. She was recently given (washable) crayons and loves to draw. She holds two or three at a time and shows them off to me.

I relish it all.

Read more here.

Friday, December 5, 2014

In Thanks: Dr. Daniel Sundahl

One of my most favorite professors is retiring... and since I may have cried writing this e-mail/ letter to him earlier this week, I share part of it in honor of a man whose lectures had a profound influence on my life. He taught me in three classes over three years. Thanks for your 30+ years of service, Dr. Sundahl: here's to going fishing and laughing forever with Ellen!

“If you gather apples in the sunshine… and shut your eyes, you shall see the apples hanging in the bright light.” ("Intellect", Ralph Waldo Emerson)

I can still see myself in your classes, thinking more than talking; scribbling notes; absorbing. The synesthesia of education; the poetry of life. Even now, my one year old is crawling under my desk - she hands me a button. She is calling out for her Dad, whose office she just crawled from to my hole, filled with boxes of notes and old papers and letters from friends. Grace doesn’t know about weeping phoebes or Neibuhr’s “The Children of the Light and the Children of Darkness” (though she thinks it has to do with nap time), and she has yet to recognize what being American is culturally.

But I like to read her Frost’s poems as I combat the weaknesses of my own nature to feel sad. The hurt and bitterness that my baby had an unexplained stroke when she was in utero, and the want for her individuality to always define her - not her struggles. How her triumphs in crawling, pulling up, and now, beginning to try to walk come from her inner drive and potential. I thrive knowing she is part of a wider story.

When she was first diagnosed at 8 months, it was scary. She didn’t show the symptoms of a bad stroke - and I kept my fears holed up for a few months, until I began to write about them, and more about Grace, and share the grandeur of my little baby. To preserve the memories, and allow myself to feel deeply and develop my poetical consciousness in order to better tell our family’s journey through cerebral palsy, through residency, through my own teaching now (in U.S. History), and through life; “And of course there must be something wrong/ In wanting to silence any song.” ("A Minor Bird", Robert Frost)

Thank you for teaching me the importance of a story, of a song, of a poem. Thank you for being my teacher.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

A Whole New Year for Grace

Today is the start of Advent, the Christian new year. It is St. Andrew's feast day (join me for the novena! starts today!), and it is Grace Harriet's one year anniversary of her baptism!

Grace was baptized at Our Lord Christ the King Catholic Church in Cincinnati, Ohio - the parish I received three of my four sacraments. She was baptized by our parish priest, who married Will and I just shy of a year earlier.

The quest of Christian parents is to raise their children in the faith- but what did that mean for us? Will and I have explored different avenues, especially where a baby - who is definitely not at the age of reason - is concerned. We want her to be exposed to the Christian life and community, so that she may come to know Christ personally and see him in all around her when she is old enough to comprehend and be able to accept Catholicism with reason.

Tonight, we are going to light her baptismal candle and say the following with/for her:
V. Do you reject Satan?
R. I do.
V. And all his works?
R. I do. 
V. And all his empty promises?
R. I do. 
V. Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth?
R. I do. 
V. Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary was crucified, died, and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father?
R. I do. 
V. Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?
R. I do. 
V. God, the all-powerful Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has given us a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and forgiven all our sins. May he also keep us faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ for ever and ever.
R. Amen. 
We guide Grace to teach her about God, so that she may see truth through example and learning. Her father and I are still on our own spiritual journeys - and with Grace, we are given further incentive to seek goodness and God.

Happy new year in Christ, little daughter. May God continue to pour his blessings and mercy upon you!

Do you celebrate baptisms in your family? Or did you celebrate growing up? This is a new tradition we are starting in our family, and I am excited to see how the children like it as well in the years to come!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Family and Food Link-Up: November Edition

Last year, we were living in New Orleans. I had the task of feeding our family while taking care of a new baby and satisfying two sets of taste buds. I often found myself trying new recipes to stretch our food budget. I like to try new recipes while Will often prefer the tried-and-true recipes.

It's not that my husband is a picky eater as much as he is a particular eater; and I knew I made a bad dish when he would only eat a small helping and declare himself full. Please. You are a human garbage disposal for carbs and chicken.

I discovered skillet meals in November of 2013 - how delightful! Throw in food; it cooks. Stir in more food. Leave it to simmer. A few more ingredients and a few more minutes later, and within 30 minutes, a warm and filling meal that would last us many days. {Fortunately, we both like leftovers!}

This is a personal favorite of us Baldwins - Skillet Chili Mac

  • 1 T safflower oil
  • 1 onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 15 oz tomato sauce
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • 8 oz/ 2 cups+ dry small pasta
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 2+ cups sharp cheddar shredded cheese
  • 12" skillet pan
  • Cutting board
  • Sharp knife
  • Can opener
  • Measuring cup + spoons
  • Wooden spatula
  • Serving spoon

1. Oil in pan; skillet on stove (medium-high heat to start)
2. Cut up onions. Try not to cry.
3. Cry. Onions are the worst. Mince garlic, if you can even see what you are doing. {Don't mince garlic and cry. You might cut your finger, like someone I know.} Or open up that jar of minced garlic!
4. Mm, saute away, onions. Add in ground beef. Break it up as it cooks. Stir in chili powder and salt.
5. Once cooked, drain any excess fat/ grease.
6. Back to the pan! Stir in garlic and brown sugar until fragrant (about 30 seconds).
7. Now, the real skill: opening cans. Stir in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, water and small pasta (I like shells)... I often put in more pasta than 2 cups - adjust your water, if need be. Just know what your pan can handle!
8. Cover and cook, stirring often at a steady simmer (12-15 minutes).
9. Stir in rinsed beans (if canned), frozen corn, 1 cup of cheese; you can also add in 3T of flour if the sauce needs to thicken.
10. Turn off heat - sprinkle 1+ cup of cheese on top and replace lid (2-4 minutes).

This meal re-heats well, and is a very happy meal! Enjoy with avocado slices and your favorite green vegetable (we like green beans with this dish - aesthetically, and taste-wise!).

Bon appetit!

Back from Iraq: Religious Persecution in the War Zone - Jillian Kay Melchior Speaks

Jillian and I went to college together; we took writing classes together in the journalism program. She is a year ahead of me, and we continue to be on friendly terms. I love hearing her updates and am excited to share this speech her gave at our alma mater about her work in Iraq.

(She went to China for a year too - such an amazing journalist!).

Follow her on Twitter!

Monday, November 17, 2014

St. Elizabeth of Hungary and Me

Happy feast day to my patron saint, whose name I took at Confirmation - St. Elizabeth of Hungary!

'St. Elizabeth of Hungary Spinning for the Poor' (1895) by Marianne Stokes

I wrote on her choosing me - "Saint of Hungary and the Homeless" - may she continue to intercede in my life!

Do you have a patron saint? How did he or she choose you?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Wrote and The Writ

"The Wrote and The Writ" by Johnny Flynn

They're taking pictures of the man from God
I hope his cassock's clean
The burden of being our holy fellas
Your halo'd better gleam, better gleam

What of all those wayward priests?
The ones who like to drink
Do you suppose they'd swap their blood for wine
Like you swapped yours for ink, for ink

You wrote me, oh so many letters
And all of them seemed true
Promises look good on paper
Especially from you, from you

The weight of all those willing words
I carried all alone
You wouldn't put your pen to bed
When we hadn't found our own, our own

Your sentences rose high at night
And circled round my head
The circle's since been broken
Like the priest before me is breaking bread

I'm being asked to drink the blood of Christ
And soon I'll eat his flesh
I'm alone again before the altar
Shedding all my old regrets

The last of which I'll tell you now
As it flies down the sink
I never knew a part of you
You didn't set in ink, in ink

The letters that you left behind
No longer shall I read
Your blood's between the pages
And I can't stand to see you bleed

And I'll soon forget what was never there
Your words are ash and dust
All that's left is the song I've sung
The breath I've taken and the one I must

If you're born with a love for the wrote and the writ
People of letters your warning stands clear
Pay heed to your heart and not to your wit
Don't say in a letter what you can't in my ear

{{Music as poetry}}

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

#5Faves: Snack Attacks

I am a snacker. I am all about the mini-meals! If I don't eat every few hours, my low blood sugar kicks in, and either I become Sleeping Beauty or the Monster from the Black Lagoon. So what are my five go-to snacks? Glad you asked.

 For protein, I love apple slices, a colby jack cheese stick and Almond Nut-Thins (Hint of Sea Salt).

If you're looking for a new apple to try, I bought SnapDragon apples this week - new from New York, recently "bred" at Cornell University! Wonderful crunch, sweet and firm texture. Related to the Honeycrisp (delicious), and quite a worthy cousin.

For salty + sweet, I love a toasted english muffin topped with peanut butter, with a side of banana or apple slices.

For sweet, Chobaini greek yogurt - easy add ons include fruit (if not already on bottom), flax seeds, chia seeds. If you're extra decadent, I like a handful of Raisinets on the side too. The greek yogurt has protein in it too! {Plain greek yogurt is one of the few foods I can stomach during bad nausea.}

For a crunch, carrot sticks, celery sticks and hummus. Popcorn is a fun crunch too!


For texture, cut up tomatoes with mini (fresh!) mozzarella balls. Olive oil + vinegar optional; sometimes, I add avocado slices as well for more color.


What do you like to eat? Are you a snacker or do you only eat three squares a day?

Linking up with Jenna @ Call Her Happy!

Monday, November 10, 2014

I Am What I Repeatedly Do: Why I Blog

I don't remember reading about this ring in Purgatory, but reading students' papers must be penance for all the bad papers I've written in my life.

I remember, freshman year, I wrote a bad paper. More accurately, a poorly edited paper. Ug, to think of it now! I just ran out of time! Time management has never been my strong suit. My professor asked me to stop by his office and told me that he's read my other papers, and he's read my articles in the school papers I wrote for - and I can do better. I have a way with words, and this paper was not up to par with my abilities.

Ouch, is all I remember. Oh, the shame. The shame. I needed that dose of reality. Hillsdale College gave me repeated doses of reality, all four years, and I became a better student because of them.

Now, I'm teaching writing to those young students of history. I'm teaching them the five paragraph format, thesis, body, analysis, and an original conclusion. It's made me think a lot about writing and my own journey.

The essay is, arguably, my favorite type of writing. It is also one of the hardest, due to its style and length. Which brings me to blogging.

I'll never understand all the existential crises I've had in regards to my blog. The WHY DO I BLOG misgivings and continuing the write here years after the willy-nilly start of this blog during college: the pull is still strong. I wrote through a Washington, D.C. internship, senior year of college, my first three jobs, friendships, and my entire relationship with my husband.

Sometimes, my blogging is about what I omit too - I've never wrote about the depth of my spiritual battles in college, heartaches again and again, the loneliness and hurt that cut deeper when you live in a snow globe, or dyslexia suspicions. But writing my blog - writing about my small victories, what I'm reading, what I'm trying, and what I love - gives me courage to write more publicly about the harder subjects, the ones I keep much closer to my shy heart.

When I was in college, I wrote letters to a few friends regularly. Most didn't reply back often in letter (gchat or a a text confirmed they were appreciated and read), but forging our friendship deeper helped me open up myself as an acceptable voice worth listening to. I loved writing letters in college, and today, as I struggle to finish Grace's birthday Thank You notes still, this blog is my new way of writing letters to friends I know are still reading.

I do write letters - I'm still pen-pals with a former professor of mine, a high school friend of mine, and a few college friends, including a sister-in-formation. I love the postcards that arrive in the mail now from travels; the baby announcements; and soon, the Christmas cards. For now, however, the blog reigns as my short essay; a kind of memoir, maybe, and a place where I can always publish, and even when I don't - where I can always write and don't have to worry about finding a stamp.

writing/ studying on the drive up to Michigan with our family pup
I never grappled with the term "writer" - I am one, ever since I was in the third grade and decided what I wanted to be while writing about Leprechauns. I do grapple with the word "blogger" though because, eh, it seems so informal. It brings out my worst fear that I am "wasting my talents" {unquote} and that what I write is unimportant... which brings me to you, dear readers: thanks for all the feedback.

Your feedback really brings out my Winston Churchill side to never, never, never, never give up writing. Some days, I'm too anxious to post -- what am I writing about?! For all the struggles and woe writing can bring, it is words that soothe the mind and warm the heart. Blogging gives that to me, and it gives back to those who needed to hear those words - it is too often to be a coincidence that I write substance people need to hear. This blog has the Holy Spirit racing through, and I feel it. My blog is beginning to feel like a mission, a purposeful outlet.

Then again, this is exactly what I try to capture in writing my blog - the extraordinary of the ordinary. The blog is such a normal medium, and my life isn't so special - except that it's mine. And as the leading lady of my own life, I have that responsibility to enjoy it.

And that is why I blog: I enjoy it. I don't blog for the numbers; I blog for the community that has grown around me and The Corner with a View. I don't always blog my best work; my best work comes out because of the writing I publish on this blog. I blog for the love of it, and that is really the only way to pursue passions. People are attracted to the genuine, to the beautiful and to love, and that is what I hope to give to my readers here.

Do you blog? Or why do you read blogs? What are your Aristotelian pursuits of the day?

Happy Monday! Thanks for reading, as my younger set like to write upon the conclusion of their essays... {We're working on that!}

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Sunday, November 9, 2014

My View (vol. 26)

What I am reading: all essays, all the time. It's the end of quarter and I am swamped. Hence my brevity during this post.

Does anyone here teach younger students and know of books/ resources to help with their essay writing journey?

What I am eating: scrambled eggs with sharp cheddar cheese; pb&jam + apples

Meal planning: My big meal of the week chili - I went grocery shopping after lunch, and I'll start cooking it tomorrow morning (but start soaking the beans tonight). The recipe is from Chow; I am not including the green chiles or jalapeƱos. It looks meaty and delicious, and I bought cheddar cheese and sour cream. Fingers crossed that Grace likes too!

Otherwise, baked chicken, tilapia, rice cooked in stock, steamed broccoli reigns here - and chili on noodles, potatoes and with corn bread muffins! All to keep us warm and full in this "it's going to get worse" weather. We're adding hot chocolate mix to our coffee too, and it is a happy time.

{linking with Nell for more ideas - though pregnancy and budget keeps it basic}

This week in history: I am very pleased to announce that not only has Grace completed her two short term goals for PT in three months, but she has exceeded expectations on two of her long term goals and partially met her third goal! Here's to new goals and another three months of learning, growing and victory!

She also now crawls on all surfaces...

Boring week for the parents: Dad is learning ultrasound, Mom is teaching/ prepping/ grading. Buuuut after a super nausea-filled start to the week, I'm feeling much-much better, thanks. I had my 24 (?!?) week appointment on Monday and it went very well. Bebe Deux continues to be a rock star growing machine.

Prayers: Will's family dog Abby passed away this week, quite suddenly. She was such a loving dog, always full of fun. She loved being outside. Last Christmas, she was quite confused by Grace being given toys that look like dog toys. Please pray for all who grieve her passing!

Abby and Will (July 2011) - my first fishing trip with the Baldwins

One of my favorite Abby stories happened one weekend I was visiting the Baldwins when we were dating. Will was trying to study for his Step 1 exam and Abby would just not stop making noise. I decided to take her on a walk while Will studied, and it was a very nice walk until I let my guard down. The Baldwins usually let Abby off her leash near home {they live in a more secluded neighborhood}, so I decided to do the same. Instead of running up the hill to the house, she ran down the hill towards the lake. I yelled "Abby, come!!!" repeatedly, and when she reached the lake, she stopped, looked right at me, and jumped in.

Needless to say, I wrestled her upstairs for a bath after that, and with Will's help. I'm not sure I took her walking alone after that!

For all private intentions.

Next week I am going to: get busy. I can't even type everything out here, it would only depress my spirits! Anyone else feel that way? I am trying to do "15 minute challenges" to get things done; it helps break up the monotony of my forever-list.

Stay warm! Wearing my thick socks everywhere. 

Grace's new winter coat!

Happy Sunday! May your week be blessed and bright.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

#5Faves: Mystery Shows

My favorite shows are mysteries - when in doubt, I love these shows. I've watched them all on Netflix at some period of time, and just as Netflix giveth, Netflix taketh away. We've given up Netflix for a while, but when we get it back (postpartum), I am hoping to have a few of these to watch!

Rosemary and Thyme

A plant pathologist and a former constable team up as landscapers, friends, and crime solvers! If you love gardening, the English, and the chance for murder to be solved via natural clues... this show is for you. Simply delightful!


David Suchet plays Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie's Belgium detective, to perfection. Add in the BBC budget, his friend/ sidekick Arthur Hastings, and a murder (or two!), and watch the brilliant intellect (I mean, little gray cells...) at work.


Years after his wife was murdered, the already OCD/ neurotic detective Adrian Monk is brought back to the San Francisco detective force as a consultant, accompanied by his assistant(s). Clever, witty, and extremely well-done.

This is one of our favorite episodes:


My roomie-bestie Heather and I watched this together during college, and we never tire of the one-liners, nicknames, pineapple sightings, failures and triumphs of the best-best friends every written for screen, Shawn and Gus. Shawn is the master observer-detective who convinced the Santa Barbara police department that he is psychic to avoid jail time, and lands himself a job. Gus is his best friend and partner (not sidekick), who is also a pharmaceutical salesman. The show is fun on the surface, and dives deeper with each season. Pair them with a solid co-cast, and you've got yourself a crime show!

(no longer the correct viewing time, fyi)

An anthropologist and an FBI agent solve crimes through high intellect, extreme logic and a lot of action. I'm not sure if this show counts as a mystery, actually... but I love the philosophical debates between the two main characters (a highly intelligent, rationalist atheist and a passionate not-as-well-versed Catholic), and their drive to find out the truth of what happened to their victims when all they usually have to go on are their bones. {still in seasons!}

And a shout-out to Castle!

Thank you Jenna @ Call Her Happy for hosting!! Back to reading Richard Hofstadter's The American Political Tradition before class...

Saturday, November 1, 2014

My View (vol. 25)

What I am reading: a lot of essays by students (end of quarter approaches!!); Sharing the Faith with Your Child (from birth to age six): A Handbook for Catholic Parents by Phyllis Chandler with Joan Burney
Last Sunday... just the Baldwin babes!

What I am eating: Boosken cookies my mama sent me. The taste of home is so sweet!

Meal Planning: Last week was mostly chicken and sweet potatoes/spaghetti and meatballs/ sides of  steamed green beans and broccoli/ eating fruit + cool whip for dessert. Grace enjoyed her first mandarin orange last night! She definitely preferred the cool whip. (And the Busken cookies that arrived yesterday!)

But this week!!! I am fixing lentil soup (plus ham for Will) of dinner tonight and tomorrow. We'll have spaghetti and meatballs again because Grace will eat meatballs (yay! more solids!), lots of tilapia, cornbread muffins, rice and/or potatoes, and I'll more than likely buy chicken drumsticks for Will. Vegetables too!

Breakfast usually looks like a scrambled egg with cheddar cheese and an english muffin or a bowl of cereal if it is an early therapy morning, plus milk and coffee. Grace always eats oatmeal, yogurt, milk and almost-always a scrambled egg + cheese. Lunch is a smorgasbord of leftovers, yogurt, and lately, pb&jam. Gracie is still into Earth's Best baby food, a colby jack cheese stick, a few slices of my daily apple and milk.

Not totally convinced over the meatball...
{This just in! I read Nell at Whole Parenting, and she is doing a link-up for meal planning! In case any of you need more recipes... because around here, y'all I'm all about the bass- the bass- the basics. My family recipes include: Put rice and water in rice cooker; press "on". Put chicken on tray; bake for 45 min-1 hour at 375 degrees. Cut up broccoli and put into bowl + 2-3 Tb of water - place plate on top and microwave for 3-4 minutes ... yeah: boss.}

A lot of grading to complete this week (my 6-8 graders are turning in their War of 1812 essays on Monday, just in time for me to finish grading their Bill of Rights essay); simple meals, simply delicious!

This week in history: We had visitors!

Trista and Bryan stopped by after a wedding for lunch! Such good conversation - AND they are moving closer to us in the next few months!! {Under 2 hours counts, right??}

Julie, Trista, Bryan
Trista has one of the most beautiful hearts! So blessed in her friendship

My wonderful college friend Tom, his wife Nicole and their sweet daughters stopped by one afternoon on their way home from New York!

The girls were not into more pictures, but we loved it!

My MIL and SIL Ellen were here of course, which was beyond delightful.

Ellen and I got to consignment shop, and my MIL helped take me care of everything - from putting plastic on the windows to help keep the chill out of our rental, getting rid of meal moths who came to stay last week, taking care of poor Will (who got sick, again - fortunately just for the weekend!) - and still creaming us all in Hearts. Ellen also finished painting Grace's dresser! Isn't just divine?!

Will finished out his last week of OB/GYN on night shift and delivering a couple more babies. I continue to prep for class, nap when Grace naps, grade, try to write, teach presidents three through seven (Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Quincy Adams, Jackson) and keeping the house clean-er. Failed on finishing thank you notes but... I napped and had minimal nausea (taking more medicine these days).

Grace started drawing/ coloring too!

My favorite day of the week was Halloween - Will woke up after his night shift, we dressed Grace up like a pumpkin, ordered pizza, watched Harry Potter (cleaned the house, la la la), and enjoyed spending more than 45 minutes a day with each other!

Getting ready to watch Harry Potter!

Daddy snuggles are the best
Prayers:  My parents flew to Italy yesterday! Prayers for their safe travels over the next two weeks. Prayers for the lonely and broken-hearted; prayers for the financially stressed; prayers for the faith seekers; prayers for the persecuted.

Special prayers for a few pieces I am writing, specifically on children with special needs. It's easy to say, "Grace is going to do great!" (and I firmly believe that- every day, she just wows us with her awesomeness!), but the attitude towards any type of disability is just so disheartening for me.

Especially being pregnant again and now being a high-risk pregnancy because my first pregnancy included a stroke - it is just a different world, and if you ever wanted to really freak a non-educated mom out about her fetus, talk to her as a high-risk patient. My frustration level brings me to tears some days, and as much as I love feeling my baby move inside me, I dread going to the OB office more and more. I have no health problems, I exercise, I eat well, I sleep, I drink water, I take my prenatal vitamins every day and I feel completely patronized every time I go into the office. I am not sure what to do; I've already talked to the office manager.

Next week I am going to: Get my grading done. Not miss my OB appointment. Take an actual belly bump picture!

I hope you're all having a good weekend! I see it is snowing back home... just rainy and cold here! Entertaining ourselves, nonetheless...

Oh, just playing with Dad's phone instead my toys...
Happy Saturday! Happy All Saints' Day today, and All Souls' Day tomorrow! We're going to the cemetery once it warms up to pray for the deceased.