Monday, June 30, 2014

John Cleese on Creativity

How many folk singers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?


A really brilliant listen on life as art, and vice versa.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Sacred Heart, Change My Heart

Today is the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The feast was requested in reparation for the ingratitude for the sacrifice that Christ made for us. This feast day also means we can eat meat today (Canon 1251), which is another reason to rejoice.

I have a special devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The image of Jesus and his Sacred Heart was on my fridge during my childhood. In college, the Sacred Heart helped me discern marriage as my vocation in life. After college, I prayed to the Sacred Heart to let me lose my want of marriage and for me to bear fruit during my single period. By Christmas, I did. I was completely happy and content as a single person. As blessings befall, I met my to-be husband Will a week or so later.

I prayed a Sacred Heart novena before Will and I started dating: for Will to show initiative, and for me to be content in whatever happened in the course of our relationship. In those months leading up to our engagement, it was the first relationship I felt free to love and be loved; I also felt comfortable enough that, even though we loved each other, if it did not work out, I could have broken up with him with a knowing heart. We talked about it, even, as we talked towards marriage. It was Christ alone who put such peace in my heart.

The modern devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus was led by Sr. Marguerite Marie Alacoque, a French nun and mystic who lived from 1647 to 1690. She had visions of Christ and increased devotion to the Sacred Heart. If people keep this devotion, our Lord told Sr. Marguerite Marie, he promises 12 things:

1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
2. I will give peace in their families.
3. I will console them in all their troubles.
4. I will be their refuge in life and especially in death.
5. I will abundantly bless all their undertakings.
6. Sinners shall find in my Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.
8. Fervent souls shall rise speedily to great perfection.
9. I will bless those places wherein the image of my Sacred Heart shall be exposed and venerated.
10. I will give to priests the power to touch the most hardened hearts.
11. Persons who propagate this devotion shall have their names eternally written in my Heart.
12. In the excess of the mercy of my Heart, I promise you that my all powerful love will grant to all those who will receive Communion on the First Fridays, for nine consecutive months, the grace of final repentance: they will not die in my displeasure, nor without receiving the sacraments; and my Heart will be their secure refuge in that last hour.
“And He [Christ] showed me that it was His great desire of being loved by men and of withdrawing them from the path of ruin that made Him form the design of manifesting His Heart to men, with all the treasures of love, of mercy, of grace, of sanctification and salvation which it contains, in order that those who desire to render Him and procure Him all the honour and love possible, might themselves be abundantly enriched with those divine treasures of which His heart is the source.”
— from Revelations of Our Lord to St. Mary Margaret Alacoque
Pope Leo XIII consecrated the world to the Sacred Heart in 1899. The Sacred Heart novena starts, “O my Jesus, you have said: “Truly I say to you, ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you.” Behold I knock, I seek and ask for the grace of [mention the purpose of your prayer]”

Then, your intention(s), followed by an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be, and ends, “Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you. Amen.”

The Sacred Heart of Jesus is my go-to prayer for all of the ups and down in our marriage, and I feel so grateful for the ability to stay close to his heart when I feel the winds push hard against my life.

Thank you, Jesus! Your Sacred Heart continues to change my heart.

Originally posted at Ignitum Today

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Parenting Philosophical Society (and GHB at 9 months!)

Everyone is a Parenting Philosopher. You're doing what? Oh! Here's how I did it! According to this book/ article/ medical journal... You need to vaccinate/ I can't believe you're vaccinating. Cry it out? Yes way/ no way!

"Should she be chewing on that??"
I did not read any baby books while pregnant. It helped me not get anxious over unknowns and I learned to enjoy being pregnant (yes, even with all the nausea). I did read Bringing Up Bebe, which confirmed to me that letting kids play on their own is a good thing and for less helicopter parenting and more zone defense. But I knew that as a sister of five siblings and, later, a nanny. I like experience over theory; I like possibility over expectation. I was as ready for my sweet bebe as I was going to be, when the time came.

When did I really feel like a mother?

I ponder this question often. GHB turns 9 months today!!!!, and I am so crazy in love with this kid, Jay-Z and Beyonce are going to be jelly. She gets up in the morning and cries out till someone picks her up (thanks Will!), and when she sees me, she glows. There is nothing like the unconditional love glow of your baby every single time she sees you.

I knew I was a mother when, at 6 am of September 26 (Grace was born at 1:30, they took her away at 3 a.m., left me in a well-lit room until 5:30 am), the nurses brought her into me for a feeding just as I was drifting off to sleep.

My baby!! Sleeping while I'm awake. Typical.
REALLY, CHILD? I thought. MAMA SO SLEEPY. Then I touched her. She was my daughter? She responded to my touch. I brought her against me and fed her. When she was done, I put her back in her bassinet and when I tried to adjust my bed (for future notice, I like to sleep horizontal), she woke up. So I cradled her in my arms until the nurse came back to retrieve her to the hospital nursery so I could theoretically get more sleep. She snuggled against me and I just could not stop staring at that beautiful little bebe: my baby.

That's when I first felt like a mother: sacrificing my happiness for hers.

I feel like a mother because I care for Grace. I feed her, I dress her, I play with her, I read her books, and I take her almost everywhere I roam. Fortunately for me, she is a solid traveler. Unfortunately for me, she requires her own caravan and servants. Aha-kidding. I am her caravan.

I feel like a mother because I take responsibility for Grace. Guess who takes her to her doctor's appointments? Me. Guess who makes sure she gets Vitamin D? Me. Guess who does physical therapy with her? Me. Guess who gets up in the middle of the night when she's crying loudly or teething? Me again!

Beyonce moves during therapy
This morning, we attended breakfast with Will before his intern orientation lectures began. A fellow EM resident rushed over and gushed over Grace, before swooping her away to two other residents who, in turn spent the next 20 minutes passing her around, until she knocked over someone's cup of coffee. Oops.That child is mine. (May I get you more coffee??) I was very proud of her for allowing the women to hold her, and not getting her T-Rex look that usually comes with her stranger anxiety.

I feel like motherhood is looked at very conceptually: Am I ready? Or not? Sometimes, it is a clear answer. Othertimes, there is the invariable waffling because parenthood seems so inevitable, yet daunting.

I drove Will up the wall (I'm sure) the first few months of Grace's life, asking him how he felt about Grace. He loved her, fine, but how did he feel. Elation? Joy? Excitement?!

Happy? Okay, I can accept "happy"...

I'm happy too. I'm happy to be married to Will, I'm happy to be Grace's mom, and I'm happy with myself. At least, I am trying reallyreallyreally hard to be happy with myself.

I passed positive graffiti in the car today: "Love Yourself."

Yes, res publica! Love yourself! Note to self: not everyone feels as deeply as I do. And I feel deeply for Grace. I'm tardy on her month sticker pictures, I forget to write down her milestones, but I'm experiencing every day with her, and she teaches me so much. She shows me determination and she shows me sass.

So why have I been guilt-tripping myself on all the writing I don't do?

"No One Sleeps While I'm Awake" -- The Sounds (bedtime theme song)

I suppose, we humans like to show what we're capable of. We like to show what we can do. I know I do. And I am sharing this struggle with non-outside world productivity because I'm discovering that what I'm really doing these days is teaching Grace about love. Grace knows we love her, and she loves us - she loves us so much that she took a nap with me in bed this morning instead of in her crib. (Did I mention she has a total softy for a mother?)

And when I'm given advice, I know it usually comes from a place of love and a love of sharing one's knowledge to help better the world. Parenthood is not for the faint of heart. There will be crying and poopy diapers and weird rashes and the need/want to shower. There will be a baby in first place, always, who needs her mother to cares about herself too; loves herself too.

It is not enough to love your children. You must love yourself. This means learning to make mistakes and not taking everything personally. Different parenting techniques are not a reflection on you as a "bad" parent. If you're even trying to contribute to your child's happiness, you are already a "good" parent. We all have different roads we walk - why do we all want our children and problems to look the same, and be so easy to master.

I am not saying being sleep deprived has made me a better person. Lord knows I need my sleep. But the Good Lord also invented coffee (and sugar! and milk!), and naps for babies, so I am not totally without resources. And I am worthy. I am a daughter of the Lord and I do not struggle in vain.

Mamas, you are not doing this journey alone either! Find the joy in every day, and as my husband told me one morning after a very crabby night: Today is a new day! Make the most of it, and be happy.

Morning y'all!
Do you love yourself? You're the first teacher of self-love. Because we can show our children how to be happy. We can teach them what joy is, even when the skies grow dark. We teach them that in Christ, everything is possible -- even if that everything is one, small task of love. To-do lists don't matter when we look at eternity.

As St. Catherine of Siena said: "Start being brave about everything. Drive out darkness and spread light. Don’t look at your weaknesses. Realize instead that in Christ crucified you can do everything."

GHB, I wish you many months of happiness as you continue to approach your one year birthday. I am so proud of you! I love your smile, your laugh, your silliness, and the way you love your mom and dad. You are so patient with us. You are so strong during PT sessions. You are so good natured and snuggly. You are interested in the world, and an interesting little human. 

Will does the best voices for Frog and Toad
At 9 months, she:
  • Sits independently
  • Transitions around her toys
  • Rolls
  • Eats solids (mum-mums and blended fruits with oatmeal are her favorites!)
  • Recognizes voices and faces
  • Says "Ahhhhhhhh" and "mommomommomom" (especially when she wants me!)
  • Expresses displeasure and happiness
  • Laughs
  • Pays attention and responds to stories and songs
  • Picks up objects using hands, fingers, toes and sometimes her mouth (very resouceful!)
I hear her talking outloud as I type this...
Grace Harriet, you're growing up so fast! I hear you waking up! Mama is coming. You are loved.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

My View (vol. 16)

Hello from Walloon Lake! On vacation with my family, as of 4 p.m. today. 

We've gone to Michigan almost every year since I was little, and there is something so wonderful about a lake at sunset. 

Hope your July is magical thus far!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Follow the Star: We Arrived!

Radio silence after day 2, so please excuse the lack of writing for the exchange of productivity. We've arrived!! I'm taking a pause in editing/ putting away clothes to write an update. Okay fine, not so noble. I also dropped a heavy object on my foot earlier while trying not to drop a heavier object on said foot, soooo yeah. Ouchie.


We've arrived!!! More jazz hands. The house has serious dust settleage and praise Jesus we've had family in town to help bring everything inside, help clean-clean-clean, help assembling the unassembled, and help enjoying the move. I drove with my SIL Ellen, who is just the bee's knees. She made this move 200 percent more fun for Grace and me. Will was a champion who drove the whole way solo, and my in-laws get serious props for pulling the trailer in their truck. Nothing broke!

The house is gorgeous, albeit still being wiped down. I am glad I bought two rugs before we moved (could not resist a Mother's Day sale), and it is really fantastic seeing how our furniture fits even better in this new location.

The best part is the space. So much space. Room to breathe.

We have lots of trees and even our own garden area and porch. Our retired neighbor cuts our lawn because it is cheaper than therapy, and refuses any compensation. The hospital traffic is not bad, and I hear more trains in the distance than ambulances.

There are still boxes everywhere - the trash collectors took a nice chunk today, but there are still more to empty and breakdown. My MIL and SIL leave tomorrow (sniff), and my mom arrives on Saturday!

I will include way more pictures as we update various rooms of the house. I am pretty thrilled to be moving from "just out of school" to "hey we're a family with style and taste! and stuff!" One day we might even get to refined living.

Let's see, let's see: more on Bethlehem. We live in the historic area and it is very pretty. Nice to walk around and look at all the former steel tycoon's homes, [too] hilly, green and lush, and close enough to the downtown region. We went to mass at Holy Ghost Church and it was gorgeous. The woodwork, the statues, the tabernacle -- the 19th century Germans really outdid themselves.

Bethlehem is very ethnic - enough Hispanics to have advertisements in Spanish, a sizeable Middle Eastern presence, and it's a college town, so younger folks all around. Bethlehem's culinary scene is delicious and I've yet to be let down.

The daycare attached to St. Luke's is totally full, and apparently there are two sets of twins ahead of Grace. I'm trying to get creative, and am soo glad I have time before classes start in September. The pediatric rehab office is not getting back to me (nor did they send the papers we talked about weeks ago), which is frustrating, and I'll have to drive there tomorrow to get forms for Grace. I am in a rush because we are leaving next week for Cincinnati, and won't be back until August. Fortunately, Miss Lisa taught us well enough that I feel like she can go a month or so without formal therapy.

Oh my! And that is what is happening with the Baldwins! Will is studying for his ACLS test (advanced cardiovascular life support) for next week and picks up his white coat tomorrow and I start answering a lot of e-mails. Maybe writing too. And bathing Grace outside again, because we can. 

Thanks for staying tuned!

Friday, June 13, 2014

On the Road, Day 2

We're stopped in VA for the night. And dang, it feels good. 

Last night, Grace cried for the last 20 miles. It was rough. All she wanted was to be held by her mama. It was heartbreaking. 

So! Today, after driving for a half hour and the GPS said we had 8:30 to go (not including much-needed breaks), we changed our destination. We'll have an extra two hours in the car tomorrow, but totally worth it. 

We got through Tennessee today and are happily in Virginia. Tired but satisfied. Ellen and I discussed her novel (in progress and sounding amazing) and everything else; Grace sang and slept. 

One satisfied baby. Over and out, for now. Off to eat dinner before 9:30!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

On the Road, Day 1

Hello. Day 1 of my Captain's log. Morale is finally high again after a couple of grueling days of packing. We had a few casualties, and right now, all that matters is that we all arrive in Tennesssee safely. 

I am reporting from the CRV, currently manned by my sister in law and filled with stuff, stuff and more stuff. Grace is our passenger, chilling in her new comfy car seat. 

This morning, PJ's coffee and breakfast sandwiches fueled our last stage of packing. Grace cried for her mama and enjoyed watching Frozen with her aunt until nap time. 

Will took off, then my in-laws. We had one final walk-thru and got cleared for take-off. Bye-bye, Unit D. You've been good to us. 

Tired and ready. So, until tomorrow! Enjoying the gorgeous Mississippi landscapes for now. 

And the snuggles during stops. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

If You Take Your Baby To The Beach...

If you take your baby to the beach, she is going to want to be fed immediately before and after...

If you take your baby to a beach and feed her, she's still going to want your lunch...

... and your beer!

If you take your baby to the beach, be prepared to stay under the tent verses in the water. Some babies are not impressed by the Gulf, or like the wild waters, even when it's not cold water but deliciously lukewarm.

If you take your baby to the beach, after attempting to play in the water, be prepared for nap time...

... even though your baby may not nap for more than five minutes.

If you take your baby to the beach, and she refuses to nap, make sure you bring your camera -- happy memories happen just by hanging out!

If you take your baby to the beach and she won't nap, smile anyways! Family fun is the best fun.

Happy beaching, GHB!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

My View (vol. 15)

Oh yes.

Yesterday, us three drove to Dauphin Island, Alabama (about a two hour drive) for a family beach trip. And it was honestly one of the most perfect days ever-ever. We hung out right on the beach under our tent (well, I did), ate lunch and drank beer, enjoyed possibly the most deliciously lukewarm Gulf water, napped and enjoyed being out.

This is our last weekend in the South (for now?); next Thursday, we move up north to Pennsylvania for three years.  Until then, here's to the Southern sky I've learned to love ever so dearly.

Mississippi -- approaching the Louisiana border

An InLinkz Link-up
Happy Saturday!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Book Review: Under the Influence of Jesus

Under the Influence of Jesus: The Transforming Experience of Encountering Christ by Joe Paprocki (Loyola Press, 168 pages, $15.95)

Displaying UnderInfluenceBlogTour-sidebar.jpg

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by Loyola Press for my honest review.

Accessible, humorous, earnest, and faithful are all words I would use to describe the latest book by Joe Paprocki, a national consultant on faith formation for Loyola Press.

Paprocki discusses what a relationship with Jesus is and is not, and how it manifests in our hearts. What happens when we are truly inebriated with the love of Christ is a “subtle but observable” transformation in our personal lives, one to prompt others to ask us about our joy (1 Peter 3:15).

The book is manageable, sitting under 200 pages. The writing style is conversational. Paprocki frequently invokes modern culture to help make a clear picture or better connection for the reader. For people looking to have a more intimate, sincere relationship with Jesus, he also gives practical advice about how best to start, grow, and truly know the greatness of our God.

I love Papracki’s advice on “vision therapy” and how to daily engage your senses to recognize God in your life. He shows a very real and alive faith, and explains the habits we can form to encourage our journey to carry our own cross.

Too often, people feel pressure to “be” a certain kind of Christian. Paprocki writes, “Likewise, the Gospels make it clear that following Jesus, while transformative at the spiritual level, does not require us to become something we are not. Rather, we are to become a more authentic version of who we are, continuing to do what we do but with a new, single-hearted focus.” In Christ, we are fully ourselves, and we use our unique gifts to help serve the Church and our fellow humans. Peter and Paul were both essential to the Church, just as Mary and Martha served the Lord in different ways. It is in our individuality that joy is made manifest to many.

The book shows the multi-faceted sides of our Lord, and warmly brings the reader in; the Scripture passages used feel well-timed and placed. Paprocki reminds us that “Jesus does not desire fans who cheer from the sidelines but rather friends who will roll up their sleeves and work shoulder to shoulder with him to build the kingdom of God.” Discipleship is an invitation for more; a desire planted in the heart to serve.

Paprocki invites the readers to personally know Jesus: the Word made flesh - for “it touched heaven, but it stood upon the earth” (Wisdom 18:16). This book is worth studying and savoring in the pursuit to best know our faith. The title of the book refers to the centuries old prayer Anima Christi: “Soul of Christ, sanctify me; Body of Christ, save me; Blood of Christ, inebriate me.” The book encourages us all to experience life in Christ, and with him.

Originally posted at Ignitum Today

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Five Favorites (vol. 9): iPhone Photography Edition

After the birth of Grace, my iPhone EXPLODED WITH PICTURES. Some of them good, some of them blurry, and all of them lovely. In my efforts to do quality control, here are a few resources.

book cover
Read it. Seriously.

Okay, I only recently discovered this e-book and it is FREE for a limited time. Proof is in the [instagram] pudding.


Make collages, add words or borders, and enjoy! 99 cents.

Stride Rite delivered. So adorable!

Dr. Dad attending at her appointment

This app is so fun! My favorite, only to be rivaled by...



The difference is remarkable - from today!

"Alas, poor Yorick. I knew him, Horatio."

99 cents.


Shutterfly is my go-to for online photography storage (free!) and printing up books. They have an app (which makes uploading easy) and are always having some sort of deal on their books.


If you are able to spend the money, Dropbox is possibly the best storage for all your digital needs. The app just makes life easier.

I keep cd copies of all pictures too, just to be safe (!!!).



Sometimes, you don't want all your baby's pictures to be public. When this is the case, you need 23Snaps - you can share pictures with ONLY the people you give access to - you can also make a baby book from those pictures. For family not on Facebook, it is essential! You can use the app and the computer!

Also - Instagram. So cool. {Follow me at @thejulieview}

 Any other favorite apps or helpful hints?

Joining Hallie!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Daily Readings: Your Grief Will Become Joy

The responsorial response sets the tone for today’s readings: “God is king of all the earth.”

The first readings in Acts, Paul passed on a message from the Lord: ““Do not be afraid. Go on speaking, and do not be silent, for I am with you. No one will attack and harm you, for I have many people in this city.”

The Jews went up against Paul, saying,“This man is inducing people to worship God contrary to the law.” The governor of the province dismissed the case, saying that as their complaint was about doctrine and titles, and not any “crime or malicious fraud” – so he would not judge it. The Jews, in turn, publicly beat a synagogue official in retribution, and Paul stayed quiet and left for Syria (then shaved his head, because he made a vow).

It is not hard to picture the above scene: Paul is going against the human response of squashing truth by any means possible, including in violation of religious laws. The cards are stacked and the schism is felt: Christianity has arrived, and they are attracting more and more followers. By publicly attempting to control Paul’s message, the Jews were attempting to put fear in his (and other Christians’s hearts); but Christ came for peace, in our hearts and in the world. And so we keep quiet, when necessary, and continue to carry on with our mission. Paul did not gloat that the case was thrown out and he did not verbally attack or taunt – he kept quiet, so the ease the pain many of those people may have been feelings.

Fear often motivates bullying. In the Gospel, another side of feeling overly burdened:
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn,
while the world rejoices;
you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.
When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived;
but when she has given birth to a child,
she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy
that a child has been born into the world.
So you also are now in anguish.
But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice,
and no one will take your joy away from you.
On that day you will not question me about anything.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.”
And when you ask God the Father for a new car, please be aware that the Gospel is not about material possessions any more than it is about winning Facebook arguments. There will be pain and suffering – even an epidural will not take away birth pangs or the effort that goes into bringing a new creation forth into the world. There is goodness in the struggle; there is light in the darkness.

I have noticed, especially in the Catholic blogosphere, the permeance of negativity. Instead of seeking Truth, we seek to Be Right – and often on topics that are going to be differences of opinion. For some of those topics, the Church gives us nice parameters. On other topics, we must reasonably discuss with compassion. For though God is the king of all, our world is still permeated with sin. We still grieve, and we still cling to our joy.

We must not be afraid to share the Gospel and the Good News: we must also not be afraid to let go of hurts and the ability to belittle another. We must know that our fellow Christians are supporting each other, loving each other, even when we misunderstand each other. The best advice a priest ever gave me was this: “You do not have to like a person, but you must love them.”

When we love each other, we curate joy. God gives us the grace to overcome our sins and glorify the Kingdom. And when in doubt, sing this in response: “All you peoples, clap your hands,/ shout to God with cries of gladness,/ For the LORD, the Most High, the awesome,/ is the great king over all the earth.”

His will be done: may our words and deeds be blessed, and may we be silent as Paul was, if necessary, in order to further the message of hope and love.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Welcome to the MotherHood

"It's a motherhood,/ It's another hood./ And once you're in the club,/ You're in for good."

Fiat keepin' it real. Seriously clutch.

Word to my bebe.