On Being a Catholic Feminist

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

I am a Catholic Feminist. But that last word is really redundant.

I am a Catholic Feminist because I cannot be Catholic without being Feminist. If by Feminist it is meant that one believes in the dignity and worth of women as equal to men, than of course I am a Feminist. To be otherwise would make me a bad Catholic. Really.

The Catholic Church is the first institution that believed I am worthwhile purely because I am a human being.
In every other instance my personal worth is based on what I can offer or how I can be used.

Every. Other. Instance.

I have been asked to choose between my fertility or a career.
My health or my finances.
My intellect or my integrity.
The Catholic Church teaches that "the person represents the ultimate end of society" (CCC 1929) and that "the equality of men rests essentially on their dignity as persons and the rights that flow from it" (CCC 1935). To demand these impossible choices within our own personhood, especially as broadly as our society does, is immoral and demeaning. These demands, still, fall disproportionately on women. When it comes to calling a spade a spade, I'm still going to bet on the Catholic Church before government or society.

But there are those who say "the Church hates women" and that I cannot possibly be a woman in the Church without being "complicit in your own oppression". This assertion normally centers around just three issues: abortion, contraception, and women priests. Abortion and contraception I believe fall under the false choices (typically fertility vs. career) listed above. So let's talk about women priests for a second.

I wrote an outline of my thoughts on this matter a while ago, but here is the gist of why I think the issue of female ordination should not determine whether or not the Church respects women. I think to say that women are not respected unless any of them can be priests is about the most disrespectful thing one can say about the lay state.

Think about it. By that same token, married people are not respected in the Church. Men over 40 are not respected. The mentally ill and the uneducated are not respected. Children are not respected
The list becomes quite lengthy.

To make ordination the basis of respect means that we would have to erase all the different states present within the Church, and within life. It is true that the life of laity has not always been best cared for or nurtured, but only a fool would argue that the lay state is not important to the Church! It is from the laity that our children are born, nurtured, and educated. The laity who carry out so many corporeal and spiritual works of mercy. Who are absolutely essential to the very breath of the Church.

Women in particular make up a disproportionate number of the laity that are so necessary to the life of the Church. If you have never read JPII's Letter to Women you are missing out on some of the most beautiful writing of praise for the state of womanhood.

"Thank you, every woman, for the simple fact of being a woman! Through the insight which is so much a part of your womanhood you enrich the world's understanding and help to make human relations more honest and authentic." (Letter to Women)

I am at home within the Catholic Church.

I am empowered.

I am free.

This month we are talking about women in the Church on the CWBN Blog Hop. Head over to read more takes on it!

What It's Like To Be in Theater

Friday, March 16, 2018

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

I rarely talk about the realities of working in theater when I'm around people not involved in the theater. It's not a mutual point of interest so it seems reasonable not to talk about it all the time. However, there are facets of combining theater and motherhood that I would love other people to understand. Here's what I wish non-theater people knew about what it's like to work in theater, and what it means to be combining motherhood and the performing arts. 


The benefit of working towards becoming someone else's pick is it does lit a fire under me! I am so much more likely to take an extra Pilates class, actually work out at home, sing scales, and read plays when I know the hard work is aiming toward a goal.


But the rejection is terrible. It is. It never really gets easier, and walking into a room and immediately realizing you are identical in look and talent to 20 other women in that room is demoralizing.


I don't get to just not care. This is an art form where the thoughts and opinions of others matter so much they determine if you will be allotted the resources to *say* anything with your art.


Auditions are essentially job interviews, but this is a job that you never get to stop interviewing for (ain't it the best!)


Confession: sometimes I get a little jealous of the people who can make art without consulting anyone else. They can paint, sketch, knit, weave, and bake without needing anyone else to agree that their vision, or talent, is worth pursuing.


But making my art quietly at home just can't hold a candle to what it is like to work in a group creating something really special that you can present to the world.
So I audition (over and over) and get rejected (over and over) holding out hope for the tiny little yeses that come along.


It will always irk me when people assume that motherhood should mean making your art should take a backseat. Not just for their infancy, through high school, maybe forever. I don't view these two things as incompatible! It's not easy, but it's not impossible. 

Actually, can we all agree to stop assuming there's anything inherently incompatible with motherhood? If it's something that is important to that mother, especially those things that concern her God given gifts, why appoint ourselves to a position that determines that God had a bad idea there? 

Do you have a passion you are pursuing alongside motherhood? Do you have questions about life in the theater? 

How To Make Decisions Like a Type A Person

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

My husband and I are currently renovating a 1901 farmhouse. There is nothing like the pressure of investing your life savings in a place and making choices that you will have to live with for, most likely, forever. But we are doing it without too much mental stress.

I am a Type A, decisive, personality. It's true that I am well programmed to make decisions quickly and well, but there are learnable skills involved! You do not need to be Type A to make decisions like a Type A. Here is the process I use to make good decisions quickly:

First things first

To plan a wedding, it makes no sense to pick your bridesmaid dresses first. What time of year will it be? Evening or afternoon? Will they need a warm layer?
To plan a wedding you first need to pick a date if you want to make good choices for everything else.

For most every decision you make, there is a logical first thing you need to know before you can make other decisions well. This is, surprisingly, where I see a lot of people procrastinate. It is so tempting to get bogged down in details, and fail to begin, when that first logical step seems so concrete and real. Don't give in to temptation!

Have a deadline

You cannot be deciding on something forever. Pick a date/time, write it down, and stick to it.
I do this for everything! I know when I should be done reading a book, so I can easily break down a daily page goal to complete the book by that date. I set deadlines for myself for deciding what to wear (it might only be a 5 minute deadline, but sometimes I need that!).

Deadlines do not need to be stressful! Especially if I am making a tough or emotional decision, I think of the deadline as the end of having to hold this difficult thing in the front of my mind. The deadline allows me to set that thing down and walk away. Deadlines are mentally freeing!

Narrow what you are choosing between

You are not honestly choosing from the entire paint catalog! There are only so many realistic options. Don't look at options that do not fit your home, are out of your budget, or are unavailable. That's an unnecessary mental expenditure.

I use goal numbers to choose most things. If I can narrow it down to three choices, it is phenomenally easier to choose between them than if I was holding up every paint chip in the collection to hem and haw over.

Don't ignore the obvious

Sometimes there is only one logical choice. It's ok not to have something to choose between when the choice is clear and there is only one option! Don't dig for trouble where there is none.

Only consult relevant parties

You do not need to ask everyone and their mother what they think about your latest gardening options. I believe in only considering the thoughts and opinions of relevant parties. This will likely be your spouse, a manager, anyone you are paying to help you with this choice, etc.

Tell people what you are choosing between if you wish, but if you struggle with making decisions perhaps hold off. Don't let your head get noisy with opinions that should not carry weight.

Commit to your choices, write them down

Find a method of committing to your choices immediately once your decision is made. Maybe you email your spouse, write it in your journal or planner, text your mom. Find a way to put that decision in writing. I find that writing my thought down brings it into the real world and helps me feel less emotive about making a choice.

Live the choice

You've made your choice, now let it go! Break your mental struggle cycle. I think the #1 strength of the Type A person is the ability to have confidence in a decision well made. This is a learnable skill!
Recognize when you are mentally starting to question your choice and remind yourself of why you made the choice you did. If your decision making was sound, so is the decision.
Learning how to let your yes mean yes, and your no mean no, is very freeing!

What are your tips for making good decisions? Do you use any of these or are your strategies different from mine?

Just a Little March

Friday, March 9, 2018

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


We only have 5 weeks left in our homeschool!

John finished his math book the other day, and now just practice appendices are remaining. We have been very happy with Mother of Divine Grace, and will be continuing with them next year.

I finally got around to writing up how we do morning basket in 5 minutes. If you want to hear about starting your day with beauty, truth, and goodness, but need it not to be just another chore, this post is for you!

Therese is reviewing her letters and is in my "zoom ahead" portion of 26 Letters to Heaven. I start to deviate from the book when the kid gets to that click stage of learning and suddenly their capabilities and interest explode. 

New to dream up our summer adventures!


Current favorite things the kids say:

John - bruggle, n. - a brother snuggle. 
His current response to requests is, "Of course I can!" and I love it.

Therese - dead pan responses and I really can't tell if she's being serious or if she has mastered sarcasm in everyday life.

Felicity - she's recently stopped making velociraptor sounds so often, and has moved on to long low grunts. Like a bear coming out of hibernation.

A bruggle in action


Auditions are still a necessary, but tough and soul crushing, exercise. I did give one audition the other week that I am very proud of, and it was nice to walk out of there knowing I nailed it on my end. Now it's just up to the group to decide if I'm a good fit.

But if I am, I get to wear a fancy Renaissance dress and have it be appropriate! That's just goals.


I will be performing next weekend in a concert of Steiner's Crucifixion! If you're in the Twin Cities area come check it out.


Renovations are plugging along at Amelia Hill House!

We have meeting this afternoon with the design team to finalize the choices.
I'm pretty sure colors change the more you stare at them and I'm this close to closing my eyes and pointing. But I won't...maybe....


With all the additional little tasks thrown into my day, I've been feeling like my Google Calendar planning system has been letting me down for certain categories like blog planning (hello inconsistent posting!), artistic progress, goal setting, habit tracking, etc.

So I jumped on the bullet journal train!

Only blog deadlines, feast days, etc. are going on this calendar. I'm dedicating each moth to a particular female saint/s to learn from and aspire to emulate. Sts. Felicity and Perpetua had their feast day this past Wednesday, and it felt fitting since I went and named a kid after one of them.

Not for everything. Google Calendar still works best for me for keeping track of appointments, logistics, and meal planning. 

I'm tracking books I should read here, but their completion on my goodreads app.

I'm also not into, or good at, drawing/doodling so the extent of my pretty is re-tracing words with marker and adding washi tape. What I want is simple but specific.

I changed my mind on how to make this layout and learned having a good eraser is probably a good idea in the future.

This has been week 1 and so far I love it! Not having to look at my phone, or a computer, in order to get alllll of my tasks done is so freeing!

I started this a few days into March so I'm not stressing about remembering prior workouts. Start where you are and keep going! Resisting the urge to want to have this reflect my ideal self.


Holy Week and Easter are just around the corner!

If you haven't entered the Easter Basket Giveaway on Instagram, you are in the final hours! It ends at 12pm EST, so hop to it!

Beauty, Truth, and Goodness - A 5 Minute Morning Basket

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

When I did my last Day in a Life post, some of you noticed that our morning basket time only lasted for 5 minutes. That is our average time.

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of a morning basket, it's essentially a set of things at the beginning of the day that starts your day with beauty, goodness, and truth. Exactly what that entails will vary drastically between families, and within the same family at different times. I encourage you to tailor your morning basket to what works in your family.

Our morning basket time consists of:

Bible: we read a page or two from our children's Bible. We use this one that is on the MODG syllabus.

Music: listen or sing along to a hymn. Catholic Chant has a great list by grade level with tracks and lyrics. We also listen to the local classical station in the car.

Poetry: This will likely expand as more kids age into our homeschool, but the schooling kids are working on memorizing poems. Even if you don't use MODG, I highly recommend Laura Burquist's The Harp and the Laurel Wreath as a great resource for finding poems. Kindergarten is all Robert Lewis Stevenson, so that's who we visit every morning!

Art: This is very basic right now. We either do a little activity with our art cards (I have these, but I also picked up a pack of postcards from various art museums at a homeschool conference for a dollar) or a simple art project. This normally starts the preschooler on her work for the morning while I start the Kindergartner on things like math and handwriting.

This is meant to be short and sweet, but it will vary on time when we're doing something different (like starting a new poem or doing a more involved craft during art). Here's how we keep morning basket a simple part of our day, instead of a dreaded add on:

Don't be a perfectionist

Kids don't automatically show appreciation for these things. Learning how to memorize a poem is work. Bible stories have weird names in them. Gregorian chant can be tricky.
If I don't stress out about doing something perfect the first time, it's much better for all of us.

However, don't take this to mean never press kids to try again! I have my kindergartner repeat phrases that he missed the first time in poetry, and I remind him it's much easier to correct a mistake right away than to fix something learned incorrectly. 
But do I make them re-sing a song where they jumbled the Latin pronunciation? Nope. Because exact pronunciation is not the goal of music time.

Goal is exposure and steady embodiment

The point of doing a morning basket is to start the slow and steady trickle of goodness and beauty that will become ingrained in the kids, and will become part of their database of things they recognize. When they hear Tantum Ergo at church, it's not something completely over their heads. They know the tune, and they can sing along a little. Starting that basis of understanding is huge!

Have everything in one place

Maybe it's not a literal basket, but do keep everything you need for your morning basket time in one place. You are far more likely to do it if you're not running around the house trying to find a book, or if the art cards are perpetually going missing.

All Together Everybody!

I believe strongly in whole family learning, and the morning basket is a great place for everyone to work on something together. Everyone, from a toddler to a high schooler, can find something in a work of art or piece of beautiful music that is meaningful and interesting. It is almost certainly not the same something, but I find most children enjoy participating in a group and having something that clearly begins the school day.

Short and Sweet

Really try to keep what you consider to be morning basket time between 5-10 minutes. Longer than that and it's not reasonable for the little ones, shorter and it basically never happened for big kids.
This might mean that some subjects get shifted to other times. When we get to the grammar stage (about 3rd grade) poetry might be introduced in morning basket, but we will need more time to work on the poems than in the 5-10 minute time allotted.

Be Flexible

You might find that you need to mix up the subjects in your morning basket. There are weeks, like when we have just started a new poem, when I will shift art to be in the afternoon. I know that the poetry will take up more time right then, but it needs to be in the beginning of the day to make sure it gets done.

There are no hard and fast rules about how you have to do, or what to include in, a morning basket!

Follow with Focus or Letting Off Steam

Depending on the kid, and the day, I will follow morning basket with either a focus (moving onto math) or letting off steam (10 minute outside recess!) It's very apparent in the 5-10 minutes of morning basket time if each kid is ready to start their day or not. Some times one, or all, of us need another chance to start again. In that case, we take a 10 minute break (I set a timer) and everyone can disperse until the timer goes off. Then we come back and I hand out assignments.

Do you do morning basket in your house? What does that look like? Those the idea of a morning basket intrigue you?

Reading within a Busy Life

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Last week I wrote about why it matters that adults, especially mothers with young children, read. Really read. Physical in-your-hand books with meaningful deep reading. When I talk to other moms about reading I commonly hear that they would love to read but just don't see how they could find the time. How can you when your life doesn't seem to have a spare minute?

It's not truly difficult.
This kind of reading is not just for those with a talent for academia, but something that can only happen with slow and steady commitment - little steps along a road. Here's some of the ways that have worked well for me and some of my fellow deep reading moms.

Block off consistent time

This is probably what sounds so impossible about reading, finding the time! But as much as I love to recoup time and get things done in spare moments, deep reading just doesn't work that way. At least some of your reading really does need to be done in a dedicated time.
It is going to be very hard at first! Reading, especially deep reading, is a skill that takes time to flex and grow. At first you will probably feel the itch to check your phone, find something else to do, or just give up.

I like to dedicate 15-30 minutes before bed for reading. The first half of nap time is always dedicated to prayer and study for me, but it's not a reliable time right now with a young baby. So before bed it is! Find when you can have a reliable time to read and make it happen.

Bring a book everywhere

Think of all the times throughout the day when you find yourself with unexpected time: waiting for an appointment, waiting for a kid to finish a class, waiting for dinner to finish cooking. I noticed that this is when I would spend (too) much time checking Facebook, email, and scrolling, scrolling, scrolling! All the scrolling left me convinced I had no time for anything. But when I started taking a book with me everywhere, I started using that time to make progress on a book.

I will say this works better for some books than others. I like it a lot for nonfiction, books with lots of little sections, and fiction that sucks you in quickly.

Get a good book list

You want to read, but what to read? Everyone will eventually create a system of reading that balances genres and styles, but finding a good book list can jump start the process.
I'm a fan of The Well Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer. It's a large annotated bibliography that gives you a crash course in how to read that particular genre. I've been working through the Poetry and Autobiography lists for a long time now.

Find a reading buddy

I joined a Well Read Mom group and it has been one of my better life choices. The program forces me to read fiction, good fiction, and has a demanding schedule. I'm far more likely to plow through a hefty book when I have a date on the calendar when I'm supposed to show up having read the book.

It is worth being picky about your reading buddies. If no one in the group even tries to make a dent in the book, it's not a book club it's a social club. That's fine, but if you want to get reading you might need to look elsewhere for that help.

Love on your library

Periodically I go through the recently acquired lists at the library and search for particular authors or topics I like to stay current on reading. Often these are very popular in my library system so the wait can be lengthy on requests. When a book does arrive, it's like Christmas! I know that because the book is popular I probably can't renew it, or check it out again, anytime soon. So I make sure to finish it, and lo and behold I manage to make it through more books than I thought I could!

Fight the genre rut

We all have those genres that we gravitate toward reading, but it's very easy to fall into the trap of only reading historical fiction, sci-fi, etc. I challenge myself to alternate reading: fiction, poetry, drama, biography/autobiography, and historical non-fiction. I use the lists in the Well Educated Mind to request books worth trying, and browse the library recommended lists for more current options.

Use audio books and e-books sparingly

It's sooooo tempting to rely on audio books and e-books when you're busy! They do have their place, but I would strongly encourage you to use them sparingly.

From what neuroscience is showing, we do not activate the same places in our brain when using an e-reader or listening to an audio book. If what we're after is that deep reading that interacts and builds our knowledge base, than in-the-hand physical books need to make up the bulk of your reading material.
I know it's hard! But what's the point of trying to get all this reading in if your recall and brain impact isn't there? Read smart to make the most of your reading.


Here's My Sunday Best from this morning with A Blog For My Mom!

I have John (5) in the choir with me every Sunday now. This morning he had a case of the wiggles.
Pro-tip: telling an antsy kid that "if you participate, mass goes faster" they can suddenly stand up!
 At least for 5 minutes, but 5 minutes can buy me a lot.

I tried hard to get a shot with my abalone shell earrings, but bad rainy day light + 5 year old photographer means this is the best option we got.

Meet Our Little Fixer Upper - We Bought A House!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

If you follow me on Instagram you already know, but the rest of you WE BOUGHT A HOUSE! After nearly a decade of renting, it was time. 

Meet Amelia Hill House:

Taken back in those beautiful non-winter days in Minnesota!

She's a 1901 farmhouse across the street from a lake.

The name is after St. Amelia, patroness of farmers and fishermen. Apt for a farmhouse on a lake, and goes well with our vision for this to be a productive and fruitful home.

She is a little bit of a fixer upper.
We found some fun surprises during the inspection, like the remains of mice and bat parties in the attic, that mean the whole attic needs to be re-insulated and the house rewired.
But it's also a 117 year old house, so I'm not surprised.

Depending on how you count, it's between 4 and 6 bedrooms, 2 baths.

Plus a guest house!
All the better when you have large, out of state, families.
The guest house has it's own kitchen, bath, and fireplace.

The big design reno, that we are doing before we move in are the kitchen and the downstairs bath. 

Demo has already begun!


Now, so long pink tile!

Some are longer term dreams that we will probably DIY.

Like turning the upstairs newly insulated garret area into a play room/day nursery, and the odd downstairs bedroom into a library.

We're excited to be on this journey, and I'm looking forward to never moving again!
After we move again. With three kids. For the second time in a year.
But then, never again!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...