7 Quick Takes: In Which I Make Excuses

Here we are, a week later, and no blog posts between last Friday’s 7QT post and this one. Le sigh. My poor readers–not only are you left without reading material, but there are so few of you that you’re probably lonely, too.

(Jokety joke–I mean, there really ARE very few of you, but I’m not bitter about it or anything. ‘Tis what it is.)

Anyway, my lack of more substantive posting makes for an easy theme: Seven things I’ve been doing instead of blogging.

Linking up with Kelly, as usual!

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 – 1 – 

Advent, and associated #Adventfails.

I’ve been able to keep up with making ornaments on schedule for our Jesse Tree (using FaithandFabric’s designs–SO CUTE!), but making one every day has definitely cut into my writing time. And increased Alex’s screen time. Whoops.

Advent 2015: Creating family traditions and memories, one episode of Daniel Tiger at a time. Good parenting at its finest.

 

 – 2 –

Christmas prep! This year, since I’m not working anymore and our household income is significantly lower, we’re doing a lot more handmade presents. Some “sharpie mugs,” and a decorated platter, and a whole set of paintings that Alex made, and which I will be adding hand-lettered quotes onto, and then framing.

It’s all turning out okay so far, I think, but boy–these projects take a lot of time. Oh, and I still have to make a bunch of fudge to include with some of these gifts. Because if you’re going to be the recipient of a bunch of homemade crap crafts, some of it should at least be edible and delicious.

 

– 3 –

Decluttering!

It’s an essential, ongoing project for poor housekeepers like me. I hate cleaning, but hey–the less stuff there is, the less we have to clean!

So decluttering and minimalism are things I can get behind. Plus, decluttering makes me feel productive while delaying the cleaning I should actually be doing.

Just please don’t go in our bathroom. I’d be very extremely, super supremely, (yet somehow routinely)… mortified. So much yuck.

I’m hoping maybe to try this schedule in January? Maybe it’ll get me on a good cleaning routine. And that gives me the rest of December to clear out as much junk beforehand as I can.

– 4 –

House projects.

Our house is too big for us, which means too expensive, too hard to clean, and too much work (time and money) to maintain. So we’re trying to get it ready to put on the market in the (hopefully near) future. It’s time to find someplace more appropriate for this time in our lives. And that means… lots of work to get this place sellable.

Actually, my husband is the one doing the house projects (like replacing our fence, punching holes in the walls to fix the nonsensical electrical wiring in this 160-year-old fixer-upper, and painting basically everywhere), but that means I am “on duty” with the boys basically 24/7 so Matt can get things done.

It’s fine–I’d rather change diapers than deal with any of his projects myself–but again, not so conducive to blogging.

 

– 5 –

Carrying a crying toddler back inside.

Alex is on a nap strike, which means every afternoon he is overtired and emotional, and also wants to play outside FOREVER. But since Matt is fixing our fence, there is no contained space where I can let Alex play freely. I have to accompany him everywhere. And since there is also Tommy, who needs things like diaper changes and nursing sessions and whatnot, we do have to come inside from time to time.

Inevitably, I end up carrying a sobbing Alex awkwardly on my hip while Tommy is strapped to my chest in a wrap, often hauling some kind of bike/wagon/toy in my other hand, struggling to reach our front door–where the crying will continue but at least I can put him down temporarily without Alex bolting away from me.

I can take his pride, and I can also take his freedom. SO THERE. (In return, he takes MY pride, and turns my arm muscles into jelly. It is HARD to carry a squirmy toddler in one arm.)

– 6 –

Reading other things, which you should read, too!

Sarah at Nurshable is basically the mom I want to be. This post on sibling jealously? Almost too good to be true.

Leticia Adams is such a good voice in the Catholic blogosphere. She points out the truth about Planned Parenthood: “There is no prenatal care, no material support for expected mothers, no help finding jobs or going back to school, no help filling out food stamp applications, no help getting into drug rehab if needed, no help getting therapy…. none of that. Only birth control, STD testing and abortion. Don’t have babies, stop spreading disease and if you get pregnant then your baby is better off dead. That’s all they offer.”

56 Ways to be Merciful during the Year of Mercy, which Pope Francis kicked off on Tuesday!

The second season of the Serial podcast has begun. Have you listened to it? I haven’t yet, but the first one was soooooo fascinating that I’ll give the new season a chance, at least!

The people of Japan like to stand in line, apparently! The world is so weird. (Including us.)

– 7 –

Laughing at this hilarious video.

“I’m basically a human selfie stick.”

My favorite part is Nate’s facial tic. Watch closely, about 37 seconds in.

 

Have a lovely weekend, friends!

 

7 Quick Takes

Here we go again! Linking up with Kelly, and I have no theme planned whatsoever!

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– 1 –

Now that Thanksgiving is over, it’s time to start planning for next year. I look forward to experimenting with these two stuffing recipes sometime before next year. Just reading them makes me drool.

Some other recipes I plan to try soon: this fudge (for Christmas gifts, hopefully?), this easy-looking homemade bread recipe, and the first two (of a continuing series!) cocktail recipes that The Provision Room has posted for Advent!

– 2 –

Here’s a long, beautiful read for when you have a little free time. It’s the story of a mother and son, who found their lives turned around when the son, an all-American high school kid in the 70s, was paralyzed in a football game. It’s really touching: a story of difficult, devoted service, provided unquestioningly out of total love. Turning her son several times a day so he didn’t get bedsores, and wiping his bottom like a baby. And what does the mother say after decades like this, when he apologizes for the difficulty of her life? “Johnny, it’s been an honor.” Real life saints.

 

– 3 –

Do you see this blanket?

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That’s a blanket that my aunt (and godmother) made for me when I was a baby. And now MY baby is snoozing and having his diapers changed on it. Sniff sniff.

– 4 –

And my grandma came to visit last weekend, and got to meet Tommy!

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I am so blessed–all four of my grandparents are still around to know their great-grandchildren. But Grandma Barb was the first of them to actually meet Tommy. We’re hoping to show him off a little more over Christmas, when we can travel to see everybody.

 

– 5 –

Aleteia is tearing it up since Elizabeth Scalia arrived as editor after her great stint at Patheos. This post is phenomenal.

This is precisely the Good News we are meant share with others when we evangelize: “I have encountered the gracious love of God and so can you! God’s love will change your life!” Yet so often we communicate the opposite message, saying something that’s more like: “Get your life straight! Then God will love you!”

Do you believe–REALLY believe–that God loves you? That nothing you can do–not the greatest accomplishment or the worst sin–could make him love you any more or any less? He loves you so, so much. He loves ME so, so much. I feel like I am only recently letting this sink in. It’s one thing to “know” it–it’s another to feel it, and to believe it.

– 6 –

Here’s a random one: I read that if you can sit down on the ground and get back up WITHOUT USING YOUR HANDS, you are half as likely to die in the next 10 years as people who can’t do that. (Although actually, according to that link I found, it’s slightly more complicated than that. Whatevs–these are QUICK TAKES. Back off, homes.)

I spend about 10% of my day just getting up and down, often with a baby in my arms, and sometimes with a still-nursing baby in my arms, so I just plain CAN’T use my hands a lot of the time. It’s a good reminder that my body is still pretty functional, even if it’s also much more jiggly and many pounds heavier than I would like.

 

 – 7 – 

I hope you read to the bottom, because you don’t want to miss this one. The “Advent at Ephasus” album by the Benedictines of Mary is currently available for free streaming (or download for offline playing, if you use the Amazon Music app!) if you are a member of Amazon Prime. This album is GORGEOUS. I basically had it on repeat all day today… except for the times when Alex insisted on listening to songs from Daniel Tiger. (Which was a lot.) (Those are also available free through Prime streaming music!)

Add it to your Advent listening. You won’t regret it.

 

And that’s a wrap. Thanks for stopping by! If you’re new here, feel free to check out my other posts from earlier this week:

Love Actually, Vocation, and Getting the Sh*t Kicked Out of Us

The King is Coming – a quick Advent overview that grew into a deeper reflection. I think you’ll like it.

Have a great weekend!

Love Actually, Vocation, and Getting the Sh*t Kicked Out of Us

After Halloween, Netflix started adding some Christmas movies back into its streaming availability, which meant that “Love, Actually” showed up in my queue. (I think I added it last year and then never got around to watching it before it disappeared in January–so it just automatically reappeared when Netflix made it available again! So fancy.)

I’ve seen the movie several times before, and should add a disclaimer right here at the beginning that there is plenty of adult language, nudity, and an outlook on human sexuality that is vastly at odds with Catholic teaching. This is not a movie you should sit down to screen with your kids. Or your mom. No, no, no.

HOWEVER, there are several very cute stories in it amidst the nudity and holiday sap, and one little line in particular that stood out to me this time.

One part of the movie focuses on a young boy named Sam, whose mother has just died, leaving Sam with his stepfather, played by Liam Neeson. Sam is grieving for his mom, but also finds himself falling head over heels for an American girl in his grade at school. He decides to try to get her attention at the winter talent show, and sets to work for months learning to play the drums. Ultimately, that doesn’t work out how he had hoped, and after the talent show the girl and her family will be flying back to America. His hopes are dashed, until Liam Neeson suggests following them to the airport so that Sam can tell the girl how he feels before she’s gone forever. And Sam agrees, while knowing that she will be leaving for another continent no matter what he does, and “Let’s go get the shit kicked out of us by love.”

(Sam is, like, nine years old. That line is surprisingly endearing when said by a determined, lovestruck little kid.)

It occurred to me later (after a particularly trying day of parenting) that that idea–“getting the shit kicked out of us by love”–is basically the essence of vocation. Whatever our vocation in this life, we are supposed be voluntarily giving of ourselves to others out of love, and usually this comes with a significant amount of pain, because we’re naturally selfish and self-centered creatures, and it hurts to break our habits of self-indulgence. But that pain is good for us, because getting rid of the selfishness and sin is GOOD, and actually makes us more authentically ourselves, rather than less.

We get the shit kicked out of us by love–we give till it hurts, which, well, hurts. It’s a challenge that threatens to overwhelm us. It’s hard. Sometimes it feels like we’re defeated, and have to get up, bruised and bleeding, to try again tomorrow.

We get the shit kicked out of us by love–what is kicked out in this process is our shit, by which I mean our sin. It’s the bad part of us. Love kicks the shit out, and makes room for more virtue.

We get the shit kicked out of us by love–we do it for people or a cause that we love. This makes it easier to keep coming back… most of the time. We face these daily battles voluntarily (or at least partially voluntarily… sometimes out of obligation, because who else will do it? But that counts!) out of love for God and family and friends. In fact, Love is the one who gave us these specific tasks to face, out of love for us, and to help us grow in love for Him.

Love kicks the shit out of us, in the very best ways. It’s our path to heaven. But it can still hurt like hell along the way.

(Obviously, as you can see from my site’s new(ish) tagline, I was somewhat enamored of my little revelation.)

For some of us, our battle looks like dealing with endless toddler meltdowns and scraped knees and disappointed hopes of ice cream for breakfast (what?! no.). For others it may be trying to interpret the incoherent rambling of a mentally ill homeless person who needs help. Or the battle could be dealing with a classroom of busy students, or satisfying (or not) a bunch of crazy parishioners with contradictory wishes, or learning to be obedient and silent in the confines of a cloister. But we all have battles to face, with trials and heartaches, one way or another.

And going back to Sam’s original phrasing–not only do we get the shit kicked out of us by love, but hopefully we sometimes approach it enthusiastically: “Let’s go!”

This is what we’re here for. To be refined by fire. To become holy and to help others grow in holiness. To learn to depend on God’s will instead of our own will. To love, no matter the cost.

Onward, fellow Christian soldiers. No matter your battlefield, let’s go get the shit kicked out of us by love.

getting the shit kicked out of us

 

(But before I go, I also have to mention what I think is the most powerful shot in the whole movie of “Love, Actually,” which isn’t in Sam’s story at all. It’s when Emma Thompson figures out that Alan Rickman bought the necklace for someone else, and she runs to their bedroom to cry for a minute and wipe her eyes in secret. They show her standing in the bedroom and the focus isn’t really even on her, it’s on their bed in the middle of the room, beautifully made up with a white comforter and comfy pillows. Their marriage bed. The representation of their whole married life, and the family they’ve built together, and the sacrament at the foundation of it all. The force of the betrayal really hits you–this affair (even though it isn’t physical or even very advanced) threatens to damage all of that. Affairs don’t really happen “on the side”–they strike a blow right to the center of things. Oh, it’s heartbreaking.)

(Over and out.)

 

The King is Coming

It’s Advent! Yay! Happy church New Year!

Over the last few years, I’ve been reading other smart bloggers talk about how their family observes Advent, which I hadn’t ever really done growing up… my family was nominally Catholic, but besides attending Mass, we didn’t really notice the liturgical year at all. The time leading up to Christmas was filled with the usual stuff, by which I mean Christmas carols, gift shopping, and not much else. It’s been really interesting to read about purposefully holding off on the Christmas celebrations until the actual 12 Days of Christmas (which START December 25), and doing OTHER things for Advent.

Last year I tried to reduce my consumption of “O Holy Night” and other Christmas music before Christmas Day, but it was hard–and I think it’s because I didn’t have anything beautiful to replace it. So this year, since I’m home with the boys and a little more free time, we’re aiming to add in a few more Advent traditions. I. Am. Excited.

(It’s a quiet,reverent, attitude-of-expectent-waiting kind of excited. Of course. Or something.)

What we’re doing this year:

An Advent wreath.

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Lighting the candle(s) each night before dinner while singing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”

Listening to more music specifically for Advent, instead of Christmas music.

And a Jesse Tree! (Warning: terrible,terrible phone photo.)

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I had never heard of a Jesse tree before, so if you’re similarly clueless, here’s what I have learned: it’s like an Advent calendar, in that there is one ornament for each day in December. The first one represents Creation, and then they progress through events in the Old Testament, showing how they all lead up to the birth of Christ. Pretty cool, huh?

Branch from dead tree in backyard, stuck into a pot + ornaments from FaithandFabric‘s AWESOME booklet guide. I started making the ornaments on Saturday and I’ve got five made so far. The first one gets hung up tonight. My plan is to keep making one a day, which means I’ll get each day’s ornament made before it is time to hang it on the tree, WITH a couple days of margin in case life gets crazy (because of course it will, at some point).

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It helps that I can handstich them while walking a fussy baby to sleep.

And the last thing that I am doing is trying to prioritize prayer, and act like it’s more  important than laundry and Netflix.  Because obviously it IS more important, but somehow it’s hard to fit prayer in around all the other stuff. (Which sounds incredibly pathetic, now that I spell it out, but there it is–gotta start somewhere.)

Of course, none of these things mean much if we do them just to do the “cool Catholic thing” in a spirit of showing off, like the Pharisees, instead of using them as meaningful tools to think about the Incarnation and how we are preparing our hearts to receive Jesus, both in our daily lives and as we look forward to His Second Coming.

That’s something that’s been on my mind the last couple of weeks. The Mass readings have been talking not just about Christ coming to us as a baby and a Savior, but also about his coming at the end of the world, to conquer sin completely and oversee the final judgement. Lots of talking about how we do not know the day or the hour,and must stay vigilant and watchful in the night, lest He come while we are sleeping.

It’s classic Advent stuff, really, but it’s not talking about Christ’s peaceful, powerful Incarnation in Bethlehem, at midnight, in the piercing cold–it’s talking about something still to come. Something that we really, actually need to prepare ourselves for, not just because it’s December and the priest is wearing purple, but because what’s coming could happen at any time. Sure, the chances of Christ returning next week are slim, but an attitude of, “Oh, not yet, I have plenty of time to go to Confession and get holy later,” are exactly what the gospels warn us about. We really don’t know the day or the hour of His return–all we know is that He will come like a thief in the night. Stay awake. Be ready. There’s no room for complacency.

It’s not something we talk about a lot, is it? Christ’s Second Coming. The description of it is pretty terrifying in the Book of Revelation. Lots of fire, swords, angels, and sorting the wheat from the chaff. Does any one of us feel reallllly sure that we’re wheat, and won’t be condemned with the chaff? (Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.)

And yet, we are supposed to look forward to this event. If we can prepare our hearts and wills to truly lean on the grace of Christ, to ask for and accept his mercy, and to act in accordance with the will of the Father (or do our best, and fess up when we mess up) then it will truly be a joyful event. “He will come again in the glory to judge the living and the dead.” “We look forward to the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.”

These are big things. Totally unknown. And that IS scary. But this Advent, I’m trying to think about it as a reason to transform my heart and mind and life, so that it feels a little less scary and a little more exciting. The King has come to us, and He will come again to reign forever.

This is going to seem like a bit of a nonsequitur, but bear with me for a second. You know how when you read certain books (the best books, in my opinion), the situation for the hero seems to be getting worse and worse, and then he faces his final trial, and then somehow, gloriously, inconceivably and yet perfectly reasonably, everything works out better than you had ever expected? The peasant boy faces the dragon, wins, AND THEN FINDS OUT HE’S ALSO HEIR TO THE THRONE, which you should have recognized all along but you didn’t. That kind of ending. The kind that makes your heart feel like bursting, because it’s just so wonderful and surprising, and yet also perfectly fitting. The kind that makes you sit back in your chair for a minute to pause and smile and dream, before you’re ready to get up after reading the final pages.

Well, that is the kind of story we are all really, truly living in. God is in control of the overall plot. His final coming at the end of the world will be THAT kind of ending. And all of us are minor but also essential characters in the story. This is OUR story.

The King is coming. It will be AWESOME.

And now it’s Advent. So let’s think about getting ready.

 

 

 

7QT: In Which Thanks Are Given

Friday again! Which means it’s time for a list of seven.

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A day late and a dollar short, but… 7 Things I’m Thankful For.

Or Seven Things for Which I Am Thankful?

Yarp.

 

– 1 –

Matt’s gainful employment, which is juuuust enough for us to let go of MY gainful employment. Dolla dolla bills, y’all. Even when trying to fight the urges of consumerism and learn to trust in God’s plans a little more, we still gotta pay the rent. Unfortunately. But I have a very hardworking, smart, practical husband, so he’s basically every employer’s dream. (And every wife’s. Swoony eyes.) Still: Thanks, Matt’s boss! Thank you, Lord, for Matt’s job!

  • 2 –

Living in a neighborhood where we can walk to church, or walk around town and see parks and a lake and some shops. It’s a “healthy lifestyle!!!11!1,” which is good, but mostly I’m thankful for our walking ability because I HATE CARSEATS. If I have a choice between getting the boys in the car or in the stroller and a baby carrier, we’re walking every time. So thanks, our town! Thank you, Heavenly Father, for our town!

  • 3 –

Our king sized bed. I maintain it was the best parenting purchase we have ever made. Room for mom, dad, nursing baby, and sometimes a snuggly toddler. The more the merrier, and the… kickier? (Matt’s bruised body is somewhat less thankful for our big bed, which allows room for so many violent wrigglers.) Thanks, bed! Thank you, God, for our bed!

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Watching some Veggie Tales on the bed. Ohhhh, yeahhh.
  • 4 –

The feeling of resting my cheek on the head of a sleeping baby on my shoulder. So love. Much cuddles. Sniff, sniff… these days are short and precious. (Am I sentimental due to wine, or the enchanting scent of baby head? It’s impossible to know. They are equally intoxicating.)

Thank you, most generous Lord, for adorable babies!

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  • 5 –

I’m very, very thankful for God’s patience. Because sometimes it takes me a long time to learn the very obvious lessons he sets before me… but he’s a gentle, loving God, and doesn’t mind that I can be a stubborn, willfully blind dummy.

Thanks, God. You rock.

  • 6 –

YOU, being here, reading this. This little corner of the web is such a help to me, letting me process my thoughts and feel not quite so lonely sometimes. I am so, so grateful to each one of you who takes the time to check in here.  (And please feel free to say hi in the comments! I’d love to know who you are and what you’re up to!) Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

  • 7 –

Butter. Because Thanksgiving. Enough said.

(I love you, butter! Thank you cows, thank you farmers, thank you God for cows and farmers and supermarkets!)

That’s a wrap. Have a wonderful weekend full of delicious leftovers and invigorating activities to keep the food comas at bay!

Thank Yous

 

Staying Home

Big, wonderful news: we’ve decided I’m not going back to work at the end of this maternity leave. I’ve informed my employer and my parents, so it’s totally official.

I am thrilled, and excited, and terrified, and feeling kind of guilty… all at the same time.

It’s a change I’ve wanted to make since Alex was born and I had to go back to work after only six weeks, which really just plain sucked—this time, even if I went back, I had tacked on six weeks of unpaid family leave to the end of my six weeks of disability coverage so that I could be home for almost 3 full months. Leaving Alex when he was so, so tiny was the most heart-wrenching thing I’ve ever had to do. Don’t even get me started on being stuck in traffic on my commute home after being away from my tiny baby for 9 hours…

So I’d been dreaming about staying home. All the enriching activities we could do! How my house would be clean for once, even without the imminent threat of guests arriving! I would have time to exercise, to read, to sleep (perchance to dream)! The boys would have a more secure attachment, wouldn’t be so clingy when I WAS home, and maybe Alex would start speeding up his speech development?? All my problems could be solved and my whole life would be perfect!

Yeah. Well. Not so much. (Duh, Jessica.)

It turns out that caring for two tiny humans is actually a lot of work in itself. It’s hard. The rest of my personal goals and to-do lists have to take a backseat. And as obvious as that is, it’s also kind of a blow. If I can’t get those things done, is it really worth me being home? Am I being lazy? Am I just plain bad at this “full-time mom” thing? Am I mooching off my husband, who now has to provide 100% of our household income?

Society inundates us with conflicting messages about stay-at-home moms. Essential to healthy kids, or lazy slackers? Must everything be Pinterest-worthy, or is that putting undue pressure on other moms who can’t keep up? Is it normal to be frazzled, with dirty hair and stained yoga pants, or does that mean you’re a total disaster who deserves mockery and derision?

And the truth is, a lot of the questions come down to a fundamental problem of perspective, which is measuring a mom’s value through a lens of productivity. Capitalist, individualist societies like ours put a lot of emphasis on measurable improvement, visible production, and immediately tangible results. So the question gets put to mothers: what are you doing today? What have you made, or fixed, or earned? Nothing, really? Then you’ve wasted your time. You probably weren’t even trying.

It is REALLY HARD to get that perspective out of my head. Some part of me knows and truly believes that the important things in this life can’t be measured in those terms—that we are here to love, to learn to be virtuous, and to be sanctified through sacrifice—which are all things that stay-at-home moms are GREAT at—but I have to keep reminding myself of those things over and over, which tells me that the deepest part of my heart is still falling for the lies of the world.

Somewhere deep down, I keep falling for the idea that my worth lies in my ability to produce, not my capacity to love. That my value is determined by my visible output, not my innate dignity as a daughter of a divine King. That caring for my children could be done just as well or better by the nice ladies at the daycare, even though my boys clearly delight in my presence even as they are deliberately breaking the rules.

So I’m trying to remember that those messages ARE lies. That I know better.

And yet, it feels like I’m giving up and lowering my standards if I take some of the pressure off to have the perfect house, perfect body, perfect outfits, and perfect children that the world expects. Can it truly be allowed to just… let go of those things? Shouldn’t I try? Shouldn’t I drive myself and my kids crazy, trying? After all, I’m home now. I have more time available, so I must have something to show for it. (There’s the lie again—that every effort must have immediate, visible results to be worthwhile.)

Maybe the answer is that yes, I SHOULD try to work towards the good, valuable goals of a clean house, healthy body, and fulfilling hobbies around the more important but less measurable work of raising healthy, faithful, virtuous kids. But I should NOT drive myself crazy. Those other goals aren’t worth sacrificing my sanity or even my stress level. They’re good things, if they are approached in the right way–in voluntary service to self and others, not as necessary sacrifices to an idol of productivity. They aren’t essential, the way love is essential.

I’ll keep trying to internalize that.

I think I’ve made good progress by writing this blog post and letting a sink full of dirty dishes wait. High five to me.

Staying Home

Seven Quick Takes: In Which I Offer No Explanation

Linking up with Kelly once again!

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And this week’s theme is pretty straightforward: seven takes on various situations and issues, offered with no (okay, little) explanation. Because they’re quick. But I’m still a blogger and can’t shut up when there’s a keyboard available.

Off we go!

 – 1 –

My older (2-year-old) son appears to be running on a 23-hour day, which means we wake up an hour earlier every day. Today started at 3:45 am. And he was chipper and cheery as all get out. My take: coffee coffee coffee and HOW DO WE FIX THIS?!

– 2 –

Does everyone hate politics this year as much as I do? Every candidate on every side is incredibly frustrating. My take: it’s time for another reset of the two party system. Every once in a while over the course of our country, a new party has formed and shifted the political landscape. That’s the only thing I can see that could get us out of this horrible mess.

– 3 –

Here’s a tip for social media users: if the only thing you do on Facebook is share other people’s political memes, you should not. use. Facebook.

– 4 –

This story about a woman suing a hospital because of a traumatic birth where nurses physically prevented the baby’s head from coming out while they forced the mom to turn over onto her back instead of in a physiologically normal position on her hands and knees, is horrifying. Anybody who’s pregnant should check out evidence-based birth and make sure your care providers are on board. It’s a travesty that America’s infant and maternal mortality rates are lower than dozens and dozens of other countries, and it’s all because we over-medicalize birth, thinking that will be safer… but it’s not.

– 5 –

Thanksgiving is almost here! In case you’re wondering, this is THE BEST pie crust recipe. So delicious, so flaky. And here’s a tutorial on rolling it out. Hooray for Smitten Kitchen! And this pumpkin pie recipe never lets me down. People have actually told me that they thought they didn’t like pumpkin pie, but they like *this* one. Ooooooh, yeah. Get in mah belly.

– 6 –

Also for Thanksgiving: you know what’s better than store-bought, super easy, and can be made ahead of time? Orange-zested cranberry sauce. DO IT.

– 7 –

Some other links you should check out:

Ideas from David Mills at Aleteia on how to help young families embrace the Church’s teachings on NFP, especially if/when it is a burden. Featuring Calah Alexander and Bonnie Engstrom!

A beautiful letter from a young Parisian Catholic to the recent attackers.

Simcha Fisher’s advice on a simple and manageable Advent (from last year–still so good!)

And a recent post from Simcha on Caitlyn Jenner’s comment that the hardest part of being a woman is choosing what to wear. Sigh.

Kendra at Catholic All Year takes on a controversial issue: girls as altar servers. Her daughters are not.

Another post from Aleteia – a great post on communication in marriage, that is a good reminder even for those of us in good marriages.

– 8 –

And a bonus take: Friday Night Lights is the best television show ever. It’s just a fact. Accept it or be wrong.

 

Have a great weekend!