I Survived Two Weeks of Solo Parenting + A Giveaway!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Linking up with This Ain't the Lyceum for 7 Quick Takes.

Today is the last day of the longest stent of solo parenting I have had to do to date (yea!!) The past two weeks have been testing, clarifying, and surprisingly fruitful. Here are some things I was immensely grateful for during this trip.



1

Crockpots

I learned a few trips ago that continuing to eat our regular style of meal, even when I'm the only pair of hands for the shopping, prep, cooking, and clean up, makes me feel loads better.
But I'm still only one person, so the crockpot has been amazing!
And I'm talking easy, toss it in, crockpot meal. None of this browning, saute, do-75%-of-the-recipe-before-it-goes-in-the-crockpot business. Top winners have been Rosemary Garlic Chicken and Pho.

2

Movie Nights

By that token, having a movie night series post dinner has been great! Since there is normally only an hour or less until bath time once dinner is over, it takes us a 2-3 nights to finish a movie.
We're on a musicals and British children's movie kick. Meet Me in St. Louis and The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep. Have been big hits.

3

Blog Community

When my husband is traveling it can feel like I haven't had a real conversation with anyone all day. Thanks to my ladies of Everyday Ediths and Young & Wild Catholic Mamas who have been great for encouragement, prayers, and interaction!
Also a huge thank you to Allison Gingras for having me on A Seeking Heart radio show last week! It was lovely chatting with you! If you missed the show, you can listen to it here.

4

Self-care Strategies

Not every day is sunshine and roses, and it gets hard when you realize that it's just you on deck. I have taken advantage of all of these self-care strategies this past week, and they have made all the difference for me!



5

Babysitters Who Got This

We were able to set up sitters for the Mondays and Fridays of this trip so I would be able to have one night at the Ballet studio and one leading the Endow group and Adoration at our parish. It was so nice to have that time and know my kids were going to be fine.

6

Prayer

I lean heavily on prayer, especially the rosary and the Liturgy of the Hours, when Matt is traveling. My greatest struggle with prayer is just starting. I like to say the Office of the Readings and Morning Prayer together after breakfast, Evening Prayer after putting the kids down, and Night Prayer before bed. Those time triggers make all the difference for making my prayer time happen!

I have heard a few priests refer to the rosary as "Mary's Rocking Chair". and I totally get it now. No matter how stressed or overwhelmed I get, saying the rosary is like climbing onto your moms lap and just being held for a while.

7

Speaking of rosaries, I have a giveaway for you all!

In celebration of this little blog getting to 200 Facebook page likes. I'm giving away a pocket rosary from Rosaries by Allison! Thanks for visiting this little corner of internet and being awesome everybody!



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Reset Tools - For When Your Day Has Derailed

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Ever have one of those days where it feels like the entire day just got off the rails? Life starts to feel out of control. While your rational brain knows these are all little insignificant things happening, the impact has worn on you and you just want a reset button.

We had one of those mornings today. 
A bad night of sleep, while already sleep deprived, plus early rising toddler and misbehaving preschooler.

I was emotionally done with today before 8am.

Since I, clearly, cannot actually check out of the day before it's really began, I started my bad day reset tools. These are the things I use to get in a better mood, clear my head, and mother in a less irritated fashion. I start with whatever sounds good at the moment, or just pick one at random.



Drink Water and Have a Snack - When I'm having a bad day, I stop taking care of my own needs because I'm going into crisis mode. Taking 5 minutes to have a snack (preferably with protein in it) and a big glass of water helps me start the train of properly taking care of myself again.

Get Outside - This instantly gives both me and the kids some breathing room. Get some Vitamin D and go slow. You don't even have to go anywhere. Some of our best walks have been going very slowly around the block inspecting all the bugs, flowers, and other critters we find.

Hot Beverage - Something about warm drinks makes me instantly feel cozy. Coffee is my go to, but you could also go for the soothing chamomile tea option.

Aromatherapy - My husband won a bunch of essential oils and a diffuser at his company Christmas party and I have been making excellent use of them! Lavender is an obvious go to when stressed out, but I find mixing it up with other scents helps me snap out of my mental funk. My favorites right now are the Uplift, Fresh, and Focus blends from Everyone.

Pamper Time - If I can take a break (maybe during naptime, have the kids play outside, or have a movie afternoon) I like to do some pamper time things. I make a DIY foot soak with epsom salt, baking soda, and some essential oils. Use a rice sock. Give myself a hand massage with yummy smelling lotion. Sometimes my muscles need a little reminder to stop holding all the tension.

Get Moving - Once the kids are in a more cooperative mood (or at least occupied) I get moving! Turn on some music that makes you happy and have a dance party. Stretching is super great for getting me in a better mood. I will often do my Pilates/stretching rosary to get me reset both physically and spiritually.

Call on Helpers - When  it feels like the above tools are not working (which happens sometimes) I call in reinforcements! I might call my husband just to commiserate. Text with a friend. Go to the park and introduce myself to someone new. The goal is to get me out of my mental rut and get re-grounded in reality. 

What are some of your bad day reset tools? Do you do something totally different?

Solo Style - My Sunday Best

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Linking up with A Blog for My Mom for My Sunday Best!

We're midway through my husband's long business trip, which meant today was a solo parenting mass day with the 4.5 year old and 2.5 year old.

Today is Laetare Sunday, so I sent the kids off in search of something pink to wear that would fit our mass clothing requirements.

Guess who got a chocolate donut today....
John normally wears his black loafers as his "church shoes" - AKA. shoes least likely to be covered in mud. Khaki pants, and a shirt that has some sort of collar.


Therese has a few dresses that are officially "church dresses". Since her favorite color is pink, she had no problem finding some pink options in the closet.

She was tickled pink that all the Fathers were wearing her favorite color. She may have thought it was just for her, and I may have let her carry on with that notion.


Dress: Kohl's?
Scarf: Charity Wrap
Shoes and Bag: Target
Not pictured - Ivory Chapel Cap from Veils by Lily

I own exactly one pink clothing item, so I'm pretty proud of myself for remembering to wear it!

Mass was definitely on the aerobic side for me, but we made it through with enough good behavior to join in coffee and donuts downstairs.

We're officially in second trimester with this baby, but I still don't feel like I look any different. Eventually we'll earn a bump age in these pictures once there's a bump to speak of. 14 weeks as of yesterday!

My husband is in Minnesota for job training, but has gotten to take the time to find us a family car (first car ever for us!), blinds and some furniture for the new house. Today he tried out Sunday mass at our new parish. He reports lots of young families in the pews - an encouraging sign!

How was mass for you today? Did you remember to wear pink?

A Good Confession

Tuesday, March 21, 2017



When I was preparing to make my first Confession, back in 3rd Grade CCD, my pastor told us a story about his first confession as a little boy. He wanted to make a really GOOD confession, so he wanted to have a really good sin to tell.
He decided to confess to the priest that he had killed his mother.

The priest, rightly, suspected this might not be the case and inquired a little more into why this 7 year old thought he killed his mother. The story of desiring to have a really good first confession came out, and the priest gave him a little talk about the importance of saying sins you actually committed.

I gleaned from this that a good confession did not necessarily entail having a big mortal sin to confess, but I was still confused about what makes a good confession. I always seemed to be confessing the same things every time, which, when the goal is never to commit those sins again, seemed to be the spiritual equivalent to spinning my wheels.

I was not just trying and failing to do better - I did not fully understand why these sins were a continual struggle or how to start stepping towards defeating those perpetual spiritual struggles.

It was not until going to a talk given by one of my favorite Dominican priests on the 7 Deadly Sins that I started to understand how to make a good confession. That talk gave me the words to name the root causes of my little spiritual struggles.

The one that blew my mind the most was Acedia. I had never heard the term before. Acedia has to do with sadness at a spiritual good. This is when you will do ANYTHING besides pray, go to mass, or pursue other spiritual goods. The very thought of going to confession or praying fills you with sadness and restlessness. Suddenly all those times I convinced myself I had "just gotten too busy" to pray seemed less innocent.

Having a name for root sins was a game changer for me. I could tell the priest specifically what I was struggling with and get much more fine tuned advice that addressed the root issue - not just my venial sin symptoms.

The beauty of examining your sins to find that root pattern is that each of the deadly sins is countered with a virtue. There is a practicality in the teaching that forces us to see ourselves as we really are, but also gives us the virtue road map to lead us out of those sinful patterns. It allows us the brutal honesty necessary to make a good confession, and the fighting chance to really mean it when we say "I firmly resolve with the help of your Grace to sin no more, and to avoid the near occasions of sin."

This post is part of the monthly CWBN Blog Hop. Check out other responses to "my true feelings about Confession" over at Reconciled to You.



There Be Changes Underfoot - 7QT

Friday, March 17, 2017

Linking up with This Ain't the Lyceum for 7 Quick Takes!



1

40 Bags in 40 Days is going well! I think was the right choice for Lent this year.
I have deviated from my original plan. I assumed I would rather focus on a particular type of clutter at a time, but in reality I work better focusing on one room or spot at a time. 
The end result will be the same, just a different road. I'm still glad I made the chart so I can look at the list and remember a spot that bugs me. Then I can go and handle it!

2

The kids room was the greatest emotional payoff.


The kids were required to be hands on helpers for sorting and making decisions about what to toss and what to keep. They turned out to be more ruthless than I.
It did not make for a quick clean, but when it was done they were SO PROUD of their room and the work they put into it.

3


Sorting through their clothes had to be a whole separate day. We ended up with a bag and a half of donation clothes, and another bag of ripped/stained/full of holes clothes.

But now we have the sweet sweet freedom of everything they put on is appropriate to wear outside the house!
I won't guarantee it's on the right way or matches (since my kids dress themselves), but it's a shirt and pants that are the right size and clean.

4

In case you missed it, I was over on The Koala Mom with Bonnie for her #LoveRebelMom series.



"I had clung to a number of ideas that made it nearly impossible to purse larger goals. I felt guilty about leaving the kids with my husband too much. I was dismissive that I had any talents worth pursuing. Even if I did, I had no business trying while my kids where still little.

Getting rid of untrue fears and thoughts like those meant my whole world opened up. I was free to pursue talents and hobbies I would almost certainly not have had time for if I was not a stay-at-home mom by day. "


5



The Zelie Group has become Everyday Ediths to embrace more women as Catholic women, wives, and mothers. I am excited to continue working with fellow Everyday Ediths writers:
Alicia at Sweeping Up Joy
Christina at Psalms of My Life

6


Finally saw a staged version of Into the Woods last night and...I don't love it. It had nothing at all to do with the actors or the staging (they were great), but the show itself. Y'all, it's a weird show, and full of contradictions. Some of the song lyrics don't even make sense for the characters to be saying. Maybe if it had ended at Act I it would have been ok, I don't know.
So sorry all of my rabid Into the Woods fans. This one is going to go on the "seen it once and I'm good" list.

7

Save the date for next Wednesday!


I'm going to be live with Allison Gingras on her radio show A Seeking Heart at 10am Eastern.
First radio show and I'm excited!


Ember Days - The Best Part of the Liturgical Year You Never Knew Existed

Friday, March 10, 2017

Linking up with This Ain't the Lyceum for 7 Quick Takes!

Happy Ember Friday! Have you never heard of Ember Days? You are in good company. They are not a part of Catholic culture that is in widespread usage. But they could be and I think they should be! 
Here's the low down on Ember Days and why they are the best part of the liturgical year you never knew existed.



1
What are Ember Days?

Essentially, they are 3 days, toward the beginning of each liturgical season, set aside for fasting and prayer and to "to thank God for the gifts of nature, to teach men to make use of them in moderation, and to assist the needy" (New Advent). 
They are very ancient practice in the Catholic Church and established somewhere between the Apostolic age and the 5th Century.

2

When are Ember Days?

They are the Wednesday, Friday, Saturday following:
Ash Wednesday
Pentecost
Feast of the Holy Cross
St. Lucia Day

That roughly works out to a set of Ember Days in each Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter.
So why are they awesome?

3

They are a Liturgical Reset Button

Each of those days are timed toward the beginning of a season, but are typically within the second or third week of a new season. That means they come right at the point when all of your lofty ideals have come tumbling down.
Maybe you are already overwhelmed by all of the prayer options for Lent. 
Maybe you really wanted to focus more on family this Advent but family time has yet to happen.
Maybe you are in a September spiritual slump.

Each of those Ember Days come at a time when you could probably do with slowing down, re-focusing, and re-evaluating.

4

They are the Main Reason I Have a Clean House

Lemme tell y'all a secret....I don't clean all that often. I tidy. I pick up. I wipe down the kitchen counters and bathroom surfaces (or as I call them the "high consequence areas"). 
But stuff like scouring the bathtub, dusting, sweeping into corners? Yeah....that happens about four times a year for sure. Ember Days!

When the Ember Days roll around, I make sure I set aside time to hit all of those tasks. It makes sense to me to clean out my physical house while I am cleaning spiritual house. 
Because the Ember Days come around just before the part of that liturgical season that involves hosting parities, the house is then cleaned and ready for festivities! So much to love!

5

They are a Reminder To Pray While We Work

Because I am normally cleaning during my Ember Days, I have to pray while working by necessity if the prayer part is going to happen. 
I have found that to be a huge blessing! Doing the externals of making myself do the tasks I do not enjoy doing, while holding mental intentions and prayers for other people is very humbling. It is an excellent reminder that my work is not about me.

6

They Are Something The Kids Can Understand

Ember Days are very much an external practice that has a big internal effect. The whole experience is full of stuff the kids can latch onto: praying for people they care about, helping clean out under their beds, making decisions about what clothes don't fit them anymore, etc.

I find that the Ember Days happen often enough for even my little kids to remember the last time they came around. That means they are a convenient way to jump start a family culture centered around the liturgical year.

7

That Thursday Rest Day is Genius

At first I thought it was odd to schedule the days Wednesday then Friday and Saturday. Why not just go full steam ahead? But I have decided that the Church was wise to make it that way.
Because that Wednesday is probably going to be a little rough as I make myself get moving and get my family back on board.
Because there might be other weekday stuff that, by necessity, should get done.
Because having one of the days fall on the weekend greatly increases the likelihood this might be a whole family endeavor.

Are you observing the Ember Days? Is this the first time you have heard of  them? Going to give it a shot?

That Time I Cried In Church - How Parishes Can Be More Family Friendly

Monday, March 6, 2017



Yesterday was the first time in a long time, perhaps the first time at this parish, that I had a run in with one of the church ladies of internet mom lore.
The ones who make it clear that they are tolerating your kids in mass, but that only extends as long as perfect silence reigns.
One wrong sound and the glares start.
Two and the snippy flares up.

We have been attending the 8am mass at our parish for a few years now. We are, typically, the only family with young kids at that mass.
That has been far and away a positive experience. Therese will pop across the aisle to sit with her "Grandma Helen" - the sweetest old lady you will ever meet who has adopted Therese as a spiritual granddaughter of sorts. I'm pretty sure there are two sprinkle doughnuts saved specifically for the kids at the social after mass, and people have gone out of their way to smile and be encouraging about bringing the kids to mass.

But then there is an event like yesterday, and I end up crying silent tears in the pew.

To get settled in the pew, I paired off with 2 year old Therese and my husband, Matt, got 4 year old John. Everyone was in good spirits and even doing better than usual. Therese was talking about her "singing book" (the hymnal) and looking to find the first song to sing. John found the kid page in the bulletin and was coloring in page.

The problem came when the woman I'm going to refer to as "church lady" came in late and slid into the pew directly in front of us.

John dropped one of the fliers from the bulletin, and Therese retrieved it from under the pew for him. *Glance back from church lady.*

Therese came back to me to start looking at the hymnal again.
*Second glance back from church lady.*

Therese went down the pew to Matt to ask for water.
Church lady turns around, gives me a look, and says, "Can you do something about your child?"

Can I DO SOMETHING about my child? Like what?
Gag her? Tie her to the pew? Make sure she is something adults never have to hear or see? She's asking for WATER (ya know, that human necessity) not having a screaming fit.

I just stared at church lady for a good minute, unable to say all of the things that were popping into my head. Things like, "Can you DO something about your lack of human charity?", "I'm sorry, this is not your private mass.", and, "You're welcome to find a different seat."

Instead I held my two year in my lap, and cried big silent tears.

Because I'm pregnant and hormonal.

Because I had never before felt un-welcomed and unwanted in that mass before.

Because attending mass with little kids, much akin to flying with little kids, is HARD. It feels like a full contact sport some days, and I will spend most of mass working my butt off so to minimize sound or distraction for anyone else - often at the expense of getting to participate much myself. To have someone suggest I'm not even trying hit deep.

Then my little community went to work.

A lady a pew ahead of church lady invited her up to her pew, I'm guessing to prevent church lady from doing any more damage.

Grandma Helen got Therese to come over and sit with her a good portion of mass.

At the Sign of Peace, I turned around to find two guys I know had been sitting behind us the whole time. My first thought was, "Great, more people who know me just saw me cry in church. Fan-freakin-tastic." Then one told me not to worry about it, and I teared up again. Because hormonal, but also just so relieved to hear something encouraging.

I saw the woman who invited church lady up to her pew giving church lady a talkin'-to after mass. She also made a point to come up and tell me I had a beautiful family.

To all of y'all who helped yesterday, thanks for not leaving us to deal with that on our own.
Thanks for saying something and doing what you could.

No parish can prevent bad experiences from happening, but the little things matter to parents. Things that show us you think little kids might show up to mass at your parish.

I love that our parish has started having a kids page in the bulletin. They even provide little crayon packs to use.

I love that all of our concerts at the parish, including the ones with extremely good musicians, are free for all kids 18 and younger, and that kids are actively encouraged to come.

I love that we have a changing station in the bathroom. It sounds so simple, but I have been hard pressed to find one in most restaurants here.

I love that we have whole parish events that include kid specific activities, like the St. Patrick's Day party and parish BBQs.

I love that the priests make a point to say hi to the kids as they come in.

Those little signs add up to give parents the hope to keep coming, even when bad experiences happen. We can always keep improving and be better at serving the families who are raising our future priests, nuns, and parishioners, but I hope parishes don't neglect to make small changes. Just because they are small does not make them without impact to a family searching for a place to make their faith home.

House Finding, Snowshoes, and Lent

Friday, March 3, 2017

Linking up with This Ain't the Lyceum for 7 Quick Takes.



It's been pretty blogging lite around here with all the new developments. Here's what's been happening!

1

News #1: We found a place to live!

Yes, this is February in Minnesota while we were there. It's a weird weird weather year,
It's beautiful and awesome. Matt will have a 5 minute commute to work, and he could even bike like he does now. We're in walking distance of multiple parks.

But I'm most excited about...GAS STOVE! And my very own (at least for my very own use) washer and dryer! If it breaks it's just my problem and it won't be made harder by other people's bad choices. #ApartmentLife

2

The house finding trip was a solo trip since the company includes a weekend nanny as part of our relocation package, so we treated it like our babymoon for this little one too!

Ended up crashing the Hedwig party also happening in the same arts center. Always an adventure here.

Matt is a master of planning for travel and we had a marvelous time trying out restaurant, touring neighborhoods, and catching a show in St. Paul.

3

Speaking of this little one, we got a midwife figured out while we were in town. Knowing we have a plan for the birth rolling, and a place to live means my stress level is much better on that front.
First home birth without neighbors who share walls with us! What luxury!

4

There is still a bunch of planning to do before the move. I'm working on my 40 bags in 40 days plan to get rid of the junk and clutter before moving.
I fell behind on Ash Wednesday, so I played catch up a bit with the rest of the week.

5


Matt's men's group decided to do a trip to the mountains together so we spent last weekend on Lake Tahoe! It was Therese's first time seeing snow. Her reaction: "I yike 'now. Wanna play in the 'now."

Actual first-time-touching-real-snow picture.


6

She was not as much of a fan of snowshoes. I grant her it is hard enough to walk in a snowsuit when you're only two.


John did fabulously. I knew he had good stamina for walking, but little dude walked four miles in the snow! Towards the end he was saying, "my legs are getting a *little* tired."
I think they're going to be fine in Minnesota winter.

7

Lent is off and running!


We did Fat Tuesday with my homemade Kings Cake and Shrimp Etoufee. I learned school masses are the long mass option on Ash Wednesday, but we made it through and the kids got their ashes.


Therese proceeded to ask everyone on the street if they were going to get their "assshhhies". Evangelization starts young I guess.

How's your Lent going? 
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