Friday, February 28, 2014

#7QT: Love What You Do

Joining Jen - Happy Friday!


New adventures: typing one-handed while your baby has your left index finger in a Chinese finger trap, except that attempts to squeeze out results in tears. But, this is good for me. As the perpetual planner, I'm learning to enjoy the moment more and jump ahead less. I like it.

Waking up snuggles

Last day of Black History month - shout-out to Dr. Mildred Jefferson, the first black woman to graduate from Harvard Medical School, the first woman in the Boston Surgical Society, and a leader in the National Right to Life movement. She died in October 2010.

Photo: Great graphic and quote from National Right to Life


Here she is giving an awesome talk about the National Right to Life movement:

Real, honest, charming.

Another awesome woman: Mayim Bialik. From PolicyMic:
During a red carpet interview at the SAG awards this January, the actress was forced into an awkward situation after Bono's doppelganger tried to asked her if people assume that she can do advanced math because she plays a smart character on TV. As it turns out, she can do calculus in her sleep because she's secretly a neuroscientist. And by secretly, I mean she publicly taught for several years, wrote a book about the science of hormones for parenting and has given several public (and very recent) lectures about the importance of investing in STEM careers and research. Oh and she's also the official spokesperson for Texas Instruments graphing calculators.
Her author bio is pretty rockin' too:
Mayim Bialik, Ph.D., is perhaps best known for her lead role as Blossom Russo in the 1990s television sitcom Blossom, and she currently appears on the top-rated comedy The Big Bang Theory. Bialik earned a B.S. from UCLA in 2000 in neuroscience and Hebrew and Jewish studies, and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA in 2007. She designed a neuroscience curriculum for homeschoolers in Southern California, where she also teaches middle and high school students. Married to her college sweetheart with two young sons, Bialik is also a Certified Lactation Education Counselor. Visit her at
You go, girl!

Verily's Life Style Editor wrote a "Love What You Do" article, and it is so well-said.
While there’s nothing wrong with doing what you love, I have a more universal mantra to propose: “Love what you do.” Turning the DWYL mantra around can help see through the false liberty that our culture maintains as true—that happiness can only be attained if you do what you love. On the contrary, it’s a journey to love—not merely doing things you enjoy—that leads to true happiness.
Read the whole thing.

"Chasing after the DWYL [Do What You Love] mentality can easily transform into a sense of entitlement (“I deserve to do something more,” “I’m too good for this,” “If only I were happy in my job, then I could . . . “) which leads to self-centeredness and bitterness toward others." --Krizia Liquodo

I think it is natural to have these feelings as we people search for our likes and dislikes; but it's also easy to form resentments, and start comparing lives.

Why does she get that job? I've been job searching forever!
He got engaged? But he's so weird! I want to be engaged too.
Why does she keep posting pictures of her dog/ baby/ new purse/ cool location where she lives?
He always posts the coolest posts. Why don't I find those kind of interesting posts?

Like it or not, you're you, and there is a reason. That's why we're on this earth - to pursue our adventures!
  • You want to be in love; nay! Be married! Yes, the snuggles are great - but married people do not sit around snuggling each other all day. They continue living their lives, and some days are great, and some days are hard, and every day is a choice to love. And the harder thing is often loving yourself as much as you love the ones you care about - learn to love yourself today so you can best know how to love another when the time comes.
  • So you don't have your dream job? Keep working towards it. No one should want to peak early - keep earning it. 
  • Lonely? So are a lot of people. Start volunteering at an older people's home - give companionship to people who can't get out like you can.
Stop feeling sorry for yourself. I say that because I do it all the time. Moping occasionally, whatever. But when I get sleep deprived, I get silly. The demons have a play day, and poke me: I'm so far from family, Will is gone at school, Grace take-yer-nap-right-now, I have to stop reading about residency, and, and, and... God has blessed me. I am blessed. I take life one moment at a time. In fact, I should do so much more with my life! Life is not a series of social media posts; life is real, and a struggle, and delicious, and active.

#GraceADay keeps the thugs at bay...


But then I read posts about cats that go missing and I laugh. Life is goofy.This article on Jane Austen re-writing the history of England is gold too.

Oh, and The View (vol. 2) is going up tomorrow - join me!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Another Shoe To Fill, Another Branch To Grow

Ignitum Today has a new Editor-in-chief... and it is me!

Please pray for me in this new role, and thank you for all your encouragement!
"All of us belong to the communion of Saints, we who have been baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, we who draw life from the gift of Christ’s Body and Blood, through which he transforms us and makes us like himself. Yes, the Church is alive – this is the wonderful experience of these days. During those sad days of the Pope’s illness and death, it became wonderfully evident to us that the Church is alive. And the Church is young. She holds within herself the future of the world and therefore shows each of us the way towards the future. The Church is alive and we are seeing it: we are experiencing the joy that the Risen Lord promised his followers. The Church is alive – she is alive because Christ is alive, because he is truly risen. In the suffering that we saw on the Holy Father’s face in those days of Easter, we contemplated the mystery of Christ’s Passion and we touched his wounds. But throughout these days we have also been able, in a profound sense, to touch the Risen One. We have been able to experience the joy that he promised, after a brief period of darkness, as the fruit of his resurrection. 
The Church is alive – with these words, I greet with great joy and gratitude all of you gathered here, my venerable brother Cardinals and Bishops, my dear priests, deacons, Church workers, catechists. I greet you, men and women Religious, witnesses of the transfiguring presence of God. I greet you, members of the lay faithful, immersed in the great task of building up the Kingdom of God which spreads throughout the world, in every area of life. With great affection I also greet all those who have been reborn in the sacrament of Baptism but are not yet in full communion with us; and you, my brothers and sisters of the Jewish people, to whom we are joined by a great shared spiritual heritage, one rooted in God’s irrevocable promises. Finally, like a wave gathering force, my thoughts go out to all men and women of today, to believers and non-believers alike." -- Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, during the homily of his inaugural mass
Under His Mercy!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Five Favorites (v. 6)

A few indulgences in my life lately:


The Frozen soundtrack

Okay, I've never seen the movie... but I want to; plus, my siblings share all these secret inner stories and loves and knowledge that only movie watchers understand. Brittany wrote a great piece on it for The Mirror Magazine, and I've spent most of today listening to the soundtrack on Spotify.

What's not to love? Sisters, heartache, humor, courage, love and Broadway star Idina Menzel (yes, from Wicked). Swoon, Disney.

I don't know what those little people are, but they're hilarious:


On that note... here is a hair tutorial for Elsa's braid. I'm always looking for ways not to wear my hair in a ponytail (little fingers hold tight):


King Cake. Apparently, not everyone celebrates happiness. I mean, Mardi Gras. My husband, for example, did not know what a king cake is before last night when I brought home a delicious one from Whole Foods. But honey, we live in New Orleans... indulge! Lent is in one week! The colors of purple, green and gold stand for justice, faith and power.

Look at dat baby!
Fun fact: down here, they fix more than cinnamon king cakes - praline, raspberry cream cheese, berry chantilly, and more!


Instagram. Total gramification. Totally in love. Follow me for giggles.


Today is five months since Grace was born. Love you, smiley baby!

That's Amore

TMB #38: Daily Devotions

Join us!
Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus?

Insert uneasy laughter. Maybe you didn't expect the question; maybe you don't like it. It's not a judgmental question - it's an honest one. It can be intimidating having that daily talk with God - which, of course, is what prayer is.

I've had to learn to trigger myself into praying, little reminders. The bells ring in the morning - a call to prayer. Prayers of thanksgiving before meals, and in the aversion of disaster(s). Prayers come easier when life is nipping at your heels; or maybe when all seems well, then you feel the bursting of a grateful heart as you acknowledge to whom you owe thanks. Daily mass, weekly confession, enjoying a beautiful moment (glory to God and his creation!), recognizing the gracious Lord who created us in his own image and wants you to know Him, because to know him is to love him.

To pray ceaselessly (1 Thessalonians 5:17) is to not wait for the right time to pray - it is to seize the moment, the opportunity to know God better, deeper, and more fully.

Sometimes those moments are small: here I am God; I showed up, God. Other moments are growing: God, how great are you; your work is mysterious, and thank you for including me (even though it can hurt).

Then there are the awe-invoking moments: thank you, thank you, thank you - the pain, the wait, the trust - it was all worth it. There are the sobering moments too: this doesn't make sense; this isn't getting better; are you there?; I love you.

I pray best with Scripture - it centers me. It speaks to me, new and deeper in my heart, every time. I love Scripture in the morning, the daily mass readings, and sharing the psalms with Grace before bed. Scripture is how we learn about God - his history with his people, his coming and going, his words, his glory, and his seriousness about us and our salvation.

For special days, I love novenas: nine days of the same prayer, same petition. I have a special devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, but there are a lot of great novenas. I try to pray the rosary on walks with Grace {hey Mama Mary!}, and I'm starting to pray the Divine Mercy chaplet when a rosary seems too daunting.

Every evening, my husband and I pray an Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be and O My Jesus before bed. We started when we were engaged, shyly saying the words together over the phone, and moving into more confident, soul-sharing. The ability to pray with him opens our marriage to further graces. I try to pray with and for family members and friends, in the joyful spirit of our communion of saints.

There is always extemporaneous prayer - speaking aloud, allowing the Holy Spirit to guide your words, and there are fixed prayers, for further meditation. Here are a few of my favorites:

And, especially, the prayer of St. Teresa of Avila:
Let nothing disturb you,Let nothing frighten you,All things are passing away:God never changes.Patience obtains all thingsWhoever has God lacks nothing;God alone suffices.
Praying does not need to be daunting, but, like anything worth doing, it takes practice, perseverance, and a want to know and please God. It is a conversation worth having.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Momily Monday

I discovered a new-to-me blogger this weekend and adore her series on "Momily Mondays" - thank you Regina! This week begins the seven posts in seven days challenge too.

In Mansfield Park, Mary Crawford essentially accuses Fanny Price of causing her brother and Maria's immoral behavior by not marrying him. But the first reading from Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18 rejects this argument: "You shall not bear hatred against your brother or sister in your heart. Though you may have to reprove your fellow citizen, do not incur sin because of him. Take no revenge  and cherish no grudge against any of your people. You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

There is always reason to hate or hold grudges or take revenge, but to love? There is no reason to love. Still, love is our calling. Love is our purpose, our meaning, our work in this life. To be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect, we must love above all. When our parents irritate us, we must love them for who they are and the good they have done and are. When our friends hurt us, we may have to choose to separate ourselves from them, and we must love them, and wish them well on this life's journey. When we are passed over and lonely and jealous, we must love people we dislike because they have what we do not - and be grateful for showing us that our dreams are possible.

Psalm 103 sings of the Lord blessing us, pardoning us, healing us, and redeeming us. "Merciful and gracious is the Lord, slow to anger and abounding in kindness./ Not according to our sins does he deal with us, not does he requite us according to our crimes." His compassion comes from his love of us, a love so overpowering, we cannot imagine its infinity.

St. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians (3:16-23) reminds us that we are temples of the Holy Spirit, and that the Spirit of God dwells within us. It is for this very reason that we cannot cultivate hate, or allow our inner demons of vice occupy our thoughts and feelings for too long. Does it not bring you joy to think that we Christians belong to God? We can never be lonely: God is with us. We cannot be jealous or covet: with God, we have enough - we are enough.

The world will never be satisfied - you'll never be pretty enough, good enough, active enough, popular enough, loved enough, sexed enough, or just enough. The world is fixated on superlatives - the best, the top, the pinnacle. But we believe that the source and summit of the Christian life is the Eucharist: Jesus is present, Jesus is with us.

And part of the enough lies from the Devil (sin personified) is to point out your sins, point out your failings; this is because he is sadistic. He derives pleasure from our pain. He squeezes the lemon into the wound. He cuts deeper, pushes harder, whispers, touches lightly to hint at thoughts you try to banish. And banish you should, and can, and need to - because they are not you. You are good. You are worthy. You are enough. You are created in God's own image, and loved beyond belief. You are cherished.

Matthew 5:38 tells us clearly Jesus' instructions on these points: we do not fight evil with more evil. We give up this world for the next. Moreover, "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and unjust."

Being perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect does not mean we are perfect - it means we love perfectly: we love all. This is what God does - he loves each and everyone of us. He suffered death for each of us, and we must never pretend otherwise. Our grief of accepting such a gift means that we must live our lives to the fullest, and not accept the lies that we are not worth God'd death on the cross. We must strive to believe it and live up to its promises each day.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

My View (vol. 1)

This blog started out as a diary, of sorts. I had never even read a blog before I started one, and when I discovered them about two years after starting my own, I was floored.

I was a junior in college, heading off to Washington, D.C. for an internship at The Washington Times. My friends Rachel and Andrew were my only known regular readers, though many others popped up in comments. I continued writing it for them, my far-away friends, and, the more I wrote, the more I liked it. The name of my blog comes from A.A. Milne's The House at Pooh Corner and E.M. Forster's A Room with a View.

I've struggled with liking the name - is it catchy enough? Is it too long? But it fits me; it fits my little corner of the internet. And it was on a long walk with Grace around our neighborhood that inspired me to start a link-up of views - the visual, visceral kind.

Beads, beads everywhere!
Mardi Gras is starting in New Orleans. There are beads everywhere, especially on fences in front of houses. I think the fences are there primarily to provide autonomy of personal property - a literal, Stay Out Of My Yard barrier to all ye passers-by. The festive, colorful beads dress up the old neighborhoods and encourage more celebrating. I wonder how many will be left come Lent?

1. Post a picture (or two!); write a description and/or a reflection.
2. Add your specific URL link below.
3. Link back to The Corner with a View!

An InLinkz Link-up

See y'all around!

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Friday, February 21, 2014

Daring Greatly Book Club Link-up: Chapter 1

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Dr. Brene Brown - Chapter 1: Scarcity: Looking Inside Our Culture of Never Enough
After doing this work for the past twelve years and watching scarcity ride roughshod over our families, our organizations, and communities, I'd like to say the one thing we all have in common is that we're sick of feeling afraid. We all want to be brave. We want to dare greatly. We're tired of the national conversation centering on "What should we fear?" and "Who should we blame?" -- Dr. Brene
Link-up your responses to the chapter here:

**Even if you're not in the book club, if you want to read the book along with us and join in the link-ups, please feel free! This book is phenomenal and a must-read.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Five Favorites (v. 5)

My kitchen has five essentials that I use almost every day. I was not much of a cooker ("cook"?) before I got married; I baked desserts for my family, and only cooked when necessity dictated. Fortunately for me, one of my best friends is a certified pastry chef, and she gives me encouragement and advice when needed.

I'm trying more recipes and cooking with onions every other night, now, so I must be getting fancy.


A 12-inch skillet is essential for meals that can/ should be cooked in one place. One of my favorite cookbooks calls for use of this skillet frequently. Ours is Will's from his bachelor days and is calphalon. I think we'll need to retire it in a few years, if anyone has any suggestions.


It's so beautiful...

Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy rice cooker is worth every penny. If you eat rice even weekly, this cooker is worth your consideration. It cooks all different types of rice + porridge, and all you do is put in the rice, put in the water (or we use chicken stock), push the button and voila! Perfect rice! It also keeps it heated for extended periods of time if need be, and the rice's taste does not alter - perfection.

p.s. if you have Amazon Prime, you save a decent chunk of change on this item.


(In case you were wondering)

Good knives - nay, Wusthof knives! Makes cutting anything an enjoyable (though, potentially hazardous if not careful) experience. Pair these knives with epicurean cutting boards and you might just be America's Next Top Chef!


Where the magic happens.

O KitchenAid, my KitchenAid, how lovely are your settings! You mix around, and keep it neat; you twirl and whirl, then it's complete! O KitchenAid, my KitchenAid, how lovely are your settings!

(An ode to my KitchenAid stand mixer, to the tune of "O Christmas Tree")


Okay, a tough call for the last one... but I feel very strongly about Pyrex glassware. It's the best. The best to cook in, the best to store food in, the best to wash, the best to use. We had a lot of different tupperwares growing up, and I am in love with Pyrex. There, I said it.
Just lovely.

Honorable mention to our toaster oven and 16 qt. stockpot. Thank you for all you do, especially for Will.

Joining with Hallie (c/o Christy) for more!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Love and Sunshine and Sex and Poop

Happy Thursday from New Orleans, where it's winter, but never snowing. Instead, my nemesis, ice, reigns on the colder days. They shut down two highways over it. At least it's sunnier now, and we can take walks up to St. Charles Street, where we always talk about going to the Trolley Stop Cafe, and always seem to forget around meal times. Besides, even though we live in a foodie dream center, we hardly eat out.

St. Valentine's feast day is tomorrow, as are the more sombering feast days of Sts. Cyril and Methodius and St. Maro. I toyed with surprising Will with Fisherman's Stew, but I'll more than likely plan it for another day, since I do not see the need to do budget maneuvering to celebrate Valentine's Day.

This does not mean I do not appreciate it as a holiday; I am always looking for an excuse to bake dessert and when Grace is older and knows what is going on in the world, I want to give her (and the future littles) a big Valentine's Day balloon and put an enormous red or pink bow on her head.

But there will be no present exchanging, no special dinner, and no hype. There will only be extra kisses and a baby to fuss over, and hopefully mass in the morning, if ice stays away.

It is true that Valentine's Day-at-large celebrate general love, and is not merely for romantic love, and to look at Valentine's Day as such is narrow vision. I loved making and giving cards away to my classmates in grade school, and creating my very own mailbox out of a shoebox. And it is equally true how ridiculous it is to go to the grocery store in January and see stuffed bears holding hearts, and dozens of balloons, and dozens of roses, and all for one day. I would rather see those bears and hearts and balloons and roses available every day, rather than marked up drastically and dropped into the pit-of-sale! sale! sale! on February 15.

But is what we're looking for general love in society? Our openness to love seems to only be on certain terms: give and take.

Last year, I cried when my husband did not wish me a happy Valentine's day. I laugh now, and maybe I should blame it on the pregnancy hormones, but we were apart and he forgot. We had never celebrated it when we were dating or engaged, and I suppose I expected to celebrate it because St. Valentine is the patron saint of married couples, and finally, I felt like my time had come.

And what changed? you might ask. In my case, it was a reality check of sorts. A decision of what we celebrate and why. My husband the rationalist believes that if you do anything or believe anything, you must have a reason why. My whimsical mind likes to jump into the future, into possibility, and into loving everyone and everything around me.

I don't have a good reason for celebrating the secular Valentine's Day, except the want/need to eat heart-shaped cookies or red velvet cupcakes, buy balloons and dress Grace and myself in bright colors. And while I wouldn't mind flowers, what I mostly want to do on Valentine's Day is to acknowledge the gift of sex between married couples.

The Planned Parenthood signs twirling around the internet of #WhatWomenNeed for St. Valentine's Day had a lovely assortment provided to the organization Women Speak for Themselves, and here's mine:

Proper Education and Factual Information About Their Body

This post isn't about having babies or saying you should all have one (now! right now!); it's about natural family planning. It's about knowing your body and trusting yourself over a pill (a class 1 carcinogen), the only medication people take when their body is working correctly. It's about the best thing you can do in your marriage, together.

Before you roll your eyes and say that everyone who practices that are parents, you should know that I believe the strongest cause for objection is out of fear; and while I understand those fears, I also know that NFP is the best thing for marriage. Even when I give you the reasons, perhaps you'll think, I already have those down pat with my spouse. And maybe you do. But organic sex is like eating organic food - once you know the taste, anything else seems second-rate.

Firstly, nothing says "I love you, all of you" like NFP. Women's fertility is a cycle, and one that can be clearly charted if you take the time to learn the signs. It is an opinion to say cervical mucus is gross - it is a fact to say cervical mucus is the body's way of telling you when you can (or cannot, if you abstain) get pregnant. Ditto goes for temperature, sensation and peeing in a cup (all other methods of NFP).
Hey girl... I love you just the way you are.

There is no need to take cough medicine every day to prevent a cough, just like there is no reason to take birth control every day (or have is physically present in your body) to prevent pregnancy. A woman can only become pregnant 5-6 days a month. She is not constantly fertile like a man; and yet the woman has to take the drug to suppress her fertility.

More than the clinical side, though, there is a freedom in the mutual love-making, and the mutual giving. There is an intimacy and warmth of a couple who shares equally in knowledge and decision-making. There is love in valuing the fertility of both parties - loving the whole person. There is nothing contraceptive in mindset or in actions when participating in NFP; each person is totally open in love, in understanding, and in generosity.

Then, there's the abstinence, if you're TTA (trying to avoid). Will and I did that over our honeymoon, and it provided us with a lot of time to discuss why we were avoiding. NFP is not a default - married couples, in their vows, promise to be open to children. Will and I decided that we did not have a serious reason to avoid becoming pregnant; and we did, even though it was a 20 percent chance.

Natural, no health-risks and a 98.6 percent effectiveness rating aside, Will and I practice NFP because couples who do have a less than 5 percent divorce rate. The reason for that is the amazing communication skills a couple must develop. It's not just about already having the necessary "skills" - it's a willingness and an openness to having a tough conversation, to being honest, and to giving and accepting love, not giving and taking. NFP is pure vulnerability, and it's pushed me and tried me and helped me love Will the best way I can, and for the best reasons. NFP is not a good in itself, but it is walk worth taking, and a discussion worth having.

Valentine's Day is one day out of the year; in the scheme of things, it seems like a fine day to remind ourselves to love a little more. But love looks different in the lens of marriage and parenthood when there is more on the line - when your heart surges because your baby just pooped and your husband is going to change it so you can keep type-type-typing. Fixing dinner to nourish your loved ones; decorating the town house because it's our home; sweet kisses and a gurgling baby who has discovered how to make loud bubbles using her tongue and lips.

This year, when you're celebrating love, start celebrating an openness to love, and toast to the grand adventure that is an ordinary, beautiful life.

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Five Favorites (v. 4)

I need a few of these things to make my day extra lovely:


Anthropologie monogram mugs are beautiful and functional. Most of our mugs match our dinner ware - a lovely white with a navy blue rim - but it's nice to have a mug of your own for mid-morning coffee or late night tea.

I have the "j" one from my brother's girlfriend

LaCroix sparkling water - I am constantly trying to drink more water, and my sister-in-law introduced me to LaCroix to counteract my coffee dehydration. I stopped drinking soda when I was in the eighth grade, and I adore the bubbly without the extra sweetness, calories or sodium. I love the lemon! I stock up whenever I see them on sale.


My personalized address stamp from Three Designing Women was a Christmas gift from my MIL two Christmases ago, and once we finally got settled in New Orleans, I ordered it and use it constantly for thank you notes, personal correspondence, and bills. The gift that keeps on giving - and when we move in June, I'll be able to order a new stamp for our new address and insert it into the stamp holder! The hardest part was picking only one design!


My Saints calendar and 16 month planner gives me enough space to plan articles, outings with Grace, exercise, and dinner. In return, the planner gives me a weekly saint bio, a quotation every month, and tells me what feast day it is (today is the Seven Holy Founders of the Order of Servites and St. Eulalia), as well daily prayers, patron saints, and other interesting Church tidbits.


Clementines are the fruit of the season, and they are like candy! I've been eating a lot of them lately, and they make me and my tummy very, very happy.

Join Hallie here!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Life Is Pain, Highness!

A few weeks ago, at Grace's four month appointment, she received five vaccines, four of which were shots into her chunky thighs. As she braved the doubly shots per legs, crying out and trusting her mother as I cooed, held her head and stroked her belly, I thought of the part in Princess Bride when the Man in Black (Wesley) says, "Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something!"

In Jen Fulwiler's article on "The 7 Habits People Who Place Radical Trust in God", I was struck by the first one - they accept suffering.

Suffering takes on many faces - the physically suffering, through maladies and disease and addiction; the emotional suffering of the lonely, sad and uncared for; the perceived suffering of injustice and abuse; the suffering of staring at a wall and not know which direction one should go.

I vaccinate my child because there are some things I can prevent, namely, diseases which used to routinely kill people. For everything else, I can only teach Grace and be there for her. I cannot, for instance, take away her teething pain. I cannot take away her sobs when she's scared and alone in her crib, even when I lean in to rub her belly and coo. Will and I are in the beginning stages of teaching Grace self-soothing.

Self-soothing "is the ability to provide comfort to yourself when you are in pain or in an uncomfortable emotional state," writes Julianna Lyddon, in her small book "Raising A Happy Spirit: The Inner Wisdom of Parenting". She goes on to say,
"Parents want to control the situation because they don't want to see their child in pain or discomfort. Life is painful at times and the best way to support children is by teaching them to calm themselves. Children who learn self-soothing behaviors will have a life with less stress and anxiety because they know how to calm themselves in difficult situations."
I remember the weight of realizing I had lost a friend because he was dating his now-wife; I remember realizing that I was not supposed to be living in Columbus - it was not where God wanted me; I remember when I almost did not return to college because of unexpected financial problems - or before that, of my loneliness while surrounded by friends, and how I didn't want to go back; I remember when my aunt died, and I couldn't go home for the funeral, and how I had to cry hundreds of miles away; I remember the misery of spiritual attacks; I remember facing two roads with Will, and having to pick one and not look back.

Self-soothing is more than helping a baby sleep at night, or picking a child up after they fell down and saying, "Okay! Not too bad. Let's keep playing!" It's us too, the adults. The adults who also have trouble sleeping, still cry, still get hangry (angry when hungry), still want to be held, still want to be told "It's all going to be okay!", still want to be unconditionally loved even if we make a mess of things.

Perhaps the bravest thing we can each do is live our life as ourselves. Have boundaries with people who tempt us into conformity. Respect everyone, even when you do not like them. And do not suffer needlessly - when you are in pain, look to the crucifix. When you are lonely, talk to Jesus. When you are overwhelmed, pray for peace.

Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) wrote, "And when night comes, and retrospect shows that everything was patchwork and much which one had planned left undone, when so many things rouse shame and regret, then take all as it is, lay it in God's hands, and offer it up to him, actually to rest, and to begin the new day like a new life."

Life is not so two-dimensional that this world alone can satisfy. There is always going to be suffering, even if it's bleary-eyed days and a teething baby (for me). It is in my suffering that I most know it is time to ask for help, time to turn off social media, time to take a walk outside, and time to listen more than I speak. It is in my suffering that I understand what it means to be human: to feel, to know, to love, to cheer and comfort, and to soothe, when necessary, ourselves and others. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Five Favorites (v. 3)

I've decided I need an outlet for fluffiness. I bet you do too!


I'm on the perpetual trail of nutritious, healthy and budget friendly breakfast options. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day; brunch is my second favorite, and brinner is my third favorite. My morning starts with oatmeal, a spoonful of brown sugar and two tablespoons of ground flax seed. I've heard great things about flax seed and chia seeds, so I'm experimenting. I'm here to say - I love flax seed. I've put it in my pancakes and greek yogurt now too: bueno! Affordable too at $4.99/ bag at Whole Foods.

Flax benefits include an amazing source of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, and helps reduce risks for diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

Trumpette Jitterbug Jenny socks! Grace was sent a set from a family friend, and they are adorable, frilly, colorful socks. They look like the cutest little shoes, and they keep Grace's toes warm, which is important since she inherited my perpetually chilly-cold hands and feet. The little elastic at the top (which does not cut off circulation to her pudgy legs) are an extra bonus!

Did I mention they are adorable?

(And so is Grace.)


This house a few blocks from our house - the deep teal color with the buttery cream, Mardi Gras beads off the mailbox, the American flag, and the front step garden complete with two trees growing in a bathtub.


After writing my piece on St. Elizabeth of Hungary and the homeless, my mention of my want (vs. need) of this Mega Seat for Grace landed baby girl a very generous gift from her fan club. It really is everything I wanted and more - plus Grace enjoys it too, which is a double plus! I am still totally bowled over by the generosity and love given to my little family.

Hey girl... want to play Patty Cake with me? Mark it with a 'G'!
Look! It's those cute socks again!

Have you ever been wrong about someone after priding yourself on being an excellent judge of character? I joined a book club for this year, and first up is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, the classic tale of coming to age, mistakes, humility and intellectual honesty. The pace of the book, the character sketches, the drama and - of course - the excellent writing voice of Miss Austen makes this book a must-read. I'm also on the BBC P&P movie train; Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy? The obvious choice. 

There was a live discussion on this book, as part of the Motherhood + Jane Austen book club I joined this year: listen here!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Don't Drink the Haterade

“Why turn the other cheek? Because hate multiplies like a seed. If one preaches hate and violence to ten men in a row, and tells the first man to strike the second, and the second to strike the third, the hatred will envelop all ten. The only way to stop this hate is for one man (say the fifth in line), to turn his other cheek. Then the hatred ends. It is never passed on. Absorb violence for the sake of the Savior, Who will absorb sin and die for it. The Christian law is that the innocent shall suffer for the guilty.” 
--Archbishop Fulton Sheen, Life of Christ