Friday, September 19, 2014

Seven Quick Takes vol. 101

Thanks to Jen for supporting random thought dumps once a week, every week.


I feel like I have approximately 550 million things to get done around here, but I'm going to blog anyway! Mostly because I'm probably going to spend the afternoon in the doctor's office getting little Peggy's leg looked after again. We'll get more x-rays and probably a new cast. I don't want to get my hopes up that she'll be completely healed today. It'd be nice, but I doubt it. 


So, I know I've been a huge dump of motherly guilt/failures lately, I won't change the blog name quite yet, but here's more. 

This week I've noticed Nora screams every time I sit down to read to the kids. I thought for the longest time it was just grumpiness, needing to nap, etc, but's because I'm sitting and reading to everyone. She's gotten to be pretty clingy lately and she just screams and screams and I honestly don't know what I should be doing. Throwing her in her crib I guess, but screaming. 

I never wanted to be that mom who copped out about having other children to deal with and thus let the younger ones run around like wild beasts, but there are SO many children running around here. I like and understand Kendra's tips for sure, and I want to deal with things the majority of the time like Nell talks about in her great tips this week too. but I just feel as one child is throwing a fit and needs to be physically removed, I'm holding or nursing the baby, and there has always been a baby and multiple toddlers. I think I've gotten behind the eight-ball so-to-speak because I just revert to yelling at everyone while holding the baby and being unable to physically remove and calm them down. I have the shortest of wicks due to the constant bombardment of questions, and comments, and needs. I know it starts from me, so my constant screaming at everyone isn't helping anything or anyone. I totally get it. But I'm feeling pretty stuck and buried in my own crappiness. I think I've noticed it more in the last couple weeks because my husband has been working so much overtime, weekends, late nights. It's been just me on the parenting home front and I'm just seeing it more I guess. There's been more emotional outburst from the older kids too so it's just been a smorgasbord of bad behaviour around here. It's all exhausting. 

Sorry, just thought I'd get that out there...for no reason other than my own venting.


If you follow me on Instagram I'm sorry for the rehash, but we've gotten so much great photographic evidence of the crazy wildlife around our house lately.

Last week I saw a little black bear on the side of the road while coming home from the city. Then a few days ago my husband saw A LYNX just a mile or two from our house! Lynx are rarely seen, and I don't think we even thought they lived in this area so it was a wildlife highlight. I however, did not go for my nightly walk down that road, but completely chickened out and walked in the field in sight of the house!


This week went better than last in no small part because the weather was BEAUTIFUL! Our falls are so tragically short we have to enjoy every bit of them. And this week the temperatures were warm, the leaves turned golden, and it really helped my attitude (if not the screaming). 

I've also taken a bazillion and one photos and will probably take a bazillion more this weekend!


Am I the only one addicted to the PBS documentary series, The Roosevelts that aired this week? I love me a good historical documentary. Couple that with my almost medically documented addiction to biographies of the Presidents of the United States (of which I am not even a citizen) and it's basically my tv dream come true. 

As much as I love Paul Giamatti, I can't help want to scream at the tv: "You can't be Theodore Roosevelt, you're John Adams!!"

My husband was thankful he was working everyday this week and has only been forced to watch an hour or two.


Anybody cooked some good fall feeling recipes lately? I'm fully ready for good, warm, one-pot dinners which are my favourite to cook. I made the Pioneer Woman's pot roast this week and it was heaven! 

Oh, I'm Canadian and don't even know what pecan pie tastes like, but Britt's Pecan Pie muffins looked so yummy! 

And I think banana bread needs to be made soon judging by the darkening fruit on my counter. Anyone wanna come over and bake for me?


No big plans for us this weekend as my husband only has tomorrow off, but I was going to weasel everyone into a family fall photo, which I'm sure will cause all sorts of tears. Fingers are crossed!

Happy Weekend!

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Grace and Faith

Hope you're having a beautiful fall day, I just got out of bed and it's so warm out that I left all the windows open last night and now the tangy, inimitable smell of changing leaves has taken over the house. It's wonderful. And so much better than snow in September, I'm thankful!

Today, I'm over at Blessed Is She. This ministry is really great, and I can't say how impressed I am by all the other great writers who are writing daily devotions. They are so nice to read everyday and have already encouraged me to focus a little more time on my daily prayer. Please, head over and sign up, and join the growing community on Facebook and Instagram.

Here's a little of what I wrote today:

The way grace plays out in our lives in one of the most remarkable and mysterious things about a life of faith. For the most part, we don’t see grace in the everyday minutiae of our lives. We often don’t see grace in the larger events of life like loss and tragedy. This is why faith can be so difficult; to live and to preach to others. Because grace plays out on an almost invisible plane, not one that is quantifiable or observable.

Click on over for the whole thing.

And if you're here from over there, thanks for stopping by! Here's a little about me, but I believe it may be one child out of date, I have 5 kids ages 7 through 1 and they're pretty crazy, very loud, and lots of fun. I live in Alberta, Canada far from warmth for the majority of the year, and is something I never talk about (just kidding, all the time!). I typically enjoy writing here on the blog about books, G.K. Chesterton, life as a mom with the goal of creating and loving her home, and sometimes NFP.

I'd love it if you hung out for a while, and feel free to introduce yourself! I'm also all over Facebook and Instagram so make sure to follow for some good times.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What I've Been Reading Lately

Oh, hi. I'm just over here still trying to potty train more than 1 month since we started down the dreaded training train. And trying to wrangle 5 kids solo as my husband is working all sorts of overtime, weekends, and late nights. So. I'll spare you 500 obnoxious poop stories, and boatloads of sarcasm and give you some good books.

Here's what I've been reading lately in some quick reviews -- it's a little slice of everything!

Have you read any? Am I way off track??

A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg

I had heard so many rave reviews for this foodie-memoir that I think I had high expectations. It starts out fairly shallow then wades into a little deeper territory, but I didn't fall in love like so many readers. I did enjoy her quirky family tales, the chapters on her father's cancer and death that were poignant yet not depressing. Her food writing is a talent and I enjoyed her lively descriptions. I borrowed this from the library so I didn't get a chance to try any recipes, but so many looked good I might have to check it out again just to try some out!

The Giver by Lois Lowry

I somehow never read this in high school, (probably because I was reading every Jane Austen novel for a third time!), so I approached it with no expectations of what it was even about. Lowry's writing was surprising and gripping, telling the tale of a choice-less, strew-free, utopia. The world she creates is easily recognizable, and I love how she tells the tale through Jonas's first hand experience with The Giver. I hope the movie proves to live up to the book, and you've gotta love T. Swift being in it!

Saints and Social Justice: A Guide to Changing the World by Brandon Vogt

I finally got around to reading this approachable and well done book by Catholic blogger extraordinaire Brandon Vogt. I appreciated his easy to read layout of each saint and chapter, as well as the saints he chose themselves. It was a great variety of the different saints of the Church and I thought he brought out great virtues in each. I would recommend this to almost anyone and I think it's a great way to reacquaint yourself both with these saints and the Church's social teaching which seems to be buried in today's dismal political climate but really needs to be known in greater depth by Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

The Expats by Chris Pavone

My husband kept telling me as I read this book that it must be good because it was a spy novel I didn't abandon midway because of ludicrous plot elements. There's a first time for everything I guess! I like a good thriller and this delivered for the most part especially as it twists and turns through a couple's marriage. Who's lying to who, where are the secrets, how much is hidden in a marriage? There were a couple sections which I felt dragged a little and I feel that more editing would have made those better, but that's being fairly critical, it's a good read for a thriller if you're in need for a switch-up to your regular reading.

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

If there's a genre that gets me every time it's novels written about slavery. They both suck me in and leave me disturbed and saddened, but I keep reading them. This book alternates between the story of Sarah Grimke, the daughter of a prominent, slave-owning, Charleston family and a slave girl the family owns who is of similar age, Handful. They grow up both seeking freedom and justice in their own lives and in the culture which constrains them. I appreciated that the author stayed true to the history of the real Sarah Grimke, while creating a very believable, or at least descriptive story of a slave in the first half of the nineteenth century. If you enjoy a good story or this time in history you'll find this a good read.

Well, that's 5 for this week, join Housewifespice for more great books, and Heather for your faves!

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Friday, September 12, 2014

Seven Quick Takes vol. 100

I've linked up 100 times. That's bonkers. But I hope it proves my undeniable love of Jen.

But I really shoulda planned a giveaway or something. Or at least balloons.


So this week there was radio silence around here because it was just that much of a week. A week of overwhelmed, crazy, hair-pulling out times with a dash of trying to find a new rhythm and routine to our school year. It basically felt like I was at square one. Of my life. Or at the very least motherhood.

I'm not even exactly sure what went off the rails so drastically. But at every turn there was a baby who needed to never be put down ever, a two year old who was peeing all over the basement, school trying to get accomplished, library books ripped, people needing to eat again, and school again, and babies crying again. Not that this is different from exactly any days, but it felt like an endless barrage of being The Only One to meet endless needs. 

It was so bad that by just Wednesday I was questioning all the foundational principles upon which I've built my life. Maybe daycare is fine? Maybe homeschooling is bat-shit crazy? Maybe I should be wearing high-heels and seeing these little people who are peeing all over my basement or who are unable to eat a meal without fighting with every single sibling for a good, healthy hour a day? What am I doing?! I'm running around like a crazy person and losing my mind! Is anything sinking in? Am I just making my life difficult and making not one ounce of difference to my children? 

See. Existential crisis of sorts.

I should be better at this, I'm 7 years into this business and I feel like I am right back at the beginning having not an iota of a clue what I'm doing.


Even on bad days I don't usually shrink to those terrible doubts of every major life decision I've ever made, but for some reason this was the week. I don't think most any of it was rational, but some days each and every part of the day feels so full of hard. A hard to which there are no easy solutions. A hardness that makes me feel as if I'm turning into the crazed, burnt out, nutty mom of a shoe-house full-of-children-who-she-is-stupid-enough-to-homeschool stereotype. Which is basically as bad as a day can get.


Of course, there are all sorts of things wrong with having these awful, second guesses and doubts coming on the bad days. I don't think you should ever make big decisions on the bad days, and if you're not considering these big, life altering things on the good days too then they're most likely torments of spiritual combat. I feel like it's just gotta be. I'm normally a rational person who makes good decisions. Things are generally really, really good around here even though every single thing we do involves a level a chaos, organization, and degree of difficulty. So, perspective I guess. It's good to have.


We got Max to go down the slide...once!

Little Miss Casty was forced to stay out of the water, it bummer her out other than this one photo!

Dom sliding by himself.

And my little Luke.

Before the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week began we took a short family road trip last weekend to celebrate getting through two whole days of school! We visited with friends, went to the zoo, swam in the hotel pool and waterside, shared a tiny hotel room because no one makes hotel rooms to accommodate more than 3 people, and ran the marathon that is eating out with 5 kids for 3 straight days.

Seriously, has anyone tried that lately? Because I think that's the most exhausting part of going anywhere right now with everyone. There are so many reasons why it's difficult I don't even want to go into it. Let's just say the treat of not having to cook is dramatically offset by trying to wrangle 5 kids in public, without 5-point harnesses, and limiting the noise levels.


The zoo turned out to be great and even Max really enjoyed it and is still talking about it a week later. So the trip really equalled a success in every way, but sleep...and eating. Except I forgot to bring the real camera and got terrible phone pics because I didn't want to stand there and VSCO cam. (Have I ever mentioned how pretentious and annoying I find VSCO? I don't think I should have such strong opinions about a photo app, but I do.) Anyway! Here's some pics:

The first time we saw the penguin exhibit!

Nora. Swimming penguin. Cast.

All five of my offspring down to the end. And two random strangers whom I have no relation to whatsoever.

The girls watching the tigers.

Max forced to get a photo with his mom. I realized he didn't know the word for giraffe when he was pointing to the actual giraffe and then the picture on the plaque wildly. Huge toddler parenting fail right there.


We've been going about life normally even with our little grumpy kitty being in a cast. I think I failed to ever mention here that it turned out Nora's leg was broken in two places near the ankle and she's been in a cast for two weeks now. It's the saddest thing and every time I see it, it breaks my heart into shattered littler pieces for my poor baby, but she's been acting normally. She's still scooting around, since she never crawled it hasn't impeded her mobility at all, and after just a couple days she was back to furniture walking which kinda freaked us out a little. We're going back for x-rays today and to see if the cast needs to stay on. I would love if it was healed enough to come off, but I'm doubting it will be. We're also hoping this won't hold her back from walking even more, because right now it looks like she's going to break Gemma's previously held record of Kid Who Took The Longest To Walk if she doesn't start walking before she turned 18 months on the 25th.


And finally, the weather was brutally cold this week. We had snow but thankfully it didn't stick like in Calgary or most other parts of Alberta. But the hard frost froze all the garden and my flowers. It's all very depressing. The weather is supposed to bounce back next week thank goodness, but it's still a bit sad mourning growth and blooms. I'm making borscht tonight, and probably 50 zucchini cakes this weekend because the zucchini went forth and multiplied this summer. Also; my husband's working all weekend, so pray for me! But I hope you've got great plans for the weekend and enjoy September!

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Because We All Know 17 Months is a Huge Milestone...

Phew. So we're back at it school-wise around here. And I didn't take one cutesy shot of anyone with a chalkboard because I was too busy yelling at everyone!

On those days where everybody is driving me up ye' old wall I harken back to all my old photos of when they were all complete, adorable babies. Also; pictures don't make any noise so they were all perfect! I also am shamelessly ripping off Grace from the other day, but I haven't compared my babies in ages so why not collage it up?

I had a hard time finding a picture of Luke not smiling at this age, he was a wonderful baby and toddler up until the dreaded 3rd birthday -- thank goodness he's fine now. Max -- I could hardly find a photo where he wasn't covered in mud from this age. Gemma and Nora are really similar especially since Nora's hair has gone so blonde which isn't as evident as it should be in this photo. And Dom...let's just say his head was off the charts until he was at least 4!

So I looked at my old pictures, couldn't believe how my babies have grown so fast, fought off crying, and ended up in a better mood.

It really scares me how fast they change and how much I love squeezing them tight every single day, even when things are going off the rails. I look back and those pictures and think, "I hope I loved them as much as I could that day." Which means, I really want to try as hard as I can to love them as much as I can today.

Thanks for the mommy-blog moment!

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Leaves Are Falling by Lucy Beckett

Ignatius Press has been getting better and better at publishing great novels in the past year. They kindly offered me a copy of this book for review, and as you can tell these are all my honest opinions.

I've read many books where the atrocities and destruction of the Second World War has featured prominently, what is more rare is to find a book that deals with the aftermath of surviving such horrors, the loss of one's family, and even the loss of one's country and culture. The Leaves Are Falling by Lucy Beckett is a story of a boy's survival, the grace he experienced after the war and also the story of his father who comes to grips with the essentials of humanity while imprisoned.

The book begins with Josef Halpern, a Jewish man living in modern day London who calls upon a writer to hear and tell his story of survival through the war in Eastern Poland. He has lived into his eighties but has never related to any one person the entirety of his sufferings and how he tried to recover and begin again in England after being rescued by the British. The magnitude of what he has survived is magnified by the fact that so few understand or are even willing to hear the complexities of his experience of the War.

His story is told by the writer and focuses upon his first years in Britain, adapting to a new way of life and freedom in light of living with the burden of tragedy. Beckett poignantly tells this story through subtle yet thoughtful prose, although the horrors are described honestly the writing itself is not violent but seems to be filled with a deep respect and reverence for the lives of all those who were killed. I think many readers will find this refreshing like I did, as many writers often seem to allow the violence to overpower the story and characters of novels which take place during this era.

The story then shifts as Josef asks the writer to put the story of his father to paper. The writer describes Josef's father Jacob in a Soviet prison after his entire Polish reserve regiment is captured in 1940. Jacob spends his time in prison being forced to contemplate what faith, God, and where the capacity for freedom resides means to him and humanity as his Soviet captures are bent on driving out any faith or belief in the prisoners. Jacob was a non-religious Jew before the war, but experiencing the total lack of freedom shines a light as to how inherent faith and freedom are to each other. He never loses his dignity because of this knowledge, even up to the end as a victim of the massacre in the forest of Katyn where 22,000 Polish prisoners were killed, and which the Soviets blamed on the Nazis.

The breadth of knowledge Beckett gives throughout this book is impressive. The politics, philosophies, cultural and religious realities at the time are all explored deeply and thoughtfully. The complicated history of Eastern Europe during the twentieth century and how much it suffered at the hands of Nazism and Communism cannot be underestimated but is so little discussed in our contemporary study of history, let alone popular historical fiction. The only criticism I hold with this book is that at times the narrative relies too heavily upon dialogue, long conversations that are needed to explore the complexities of that time, but weigh down the prose.

I would recommend this novel to anyone with an interest in Eastern Europe or good historical fiction. It leaves the reader with a renewed respect not only for all those who lived and died in those horrific conditions of war, but for the survivors who were left with deep, lasting scars. The Leaves Are Falling is a well crafted, well researched novel that explores not only the truths of a horrible time in human history, but the spiritual realities that effect our hearts and souls.

Joining Jessica for What We're Reading Wednesday, make sure to visit for other great reads!  

Friday, August 29, 2014

Seven Quick Takes vol. 99

Hey, hope you all had a good week. I'll try to make these quick, go to Jen's for more!


Surprisingly, she didn't get injured doing this.

This week flew by up until yesterday where the day got swallowed by doctors offices and X-rays! Nora is still not walking by herself, and because she seems to have quite the streak of diva in her Gemma and Dominic often carry her from one place to the other because...diva. Yesterday morning Gemma was carrying her in regular awkward fashion and tripped over her own feet on the carpet in the basement. Gemma fell awkwardly on Nora but it didn't seem too bad, I thought Nora was ok even though she was crying because diva usually likes to freak out over small things. She then went down for her nap, slept for her usual amount of time but woke up crying and clearly in pain. I checked her body but she didn't seem to be reacting to any one spot, but I knew she was in pain and was basically freaking out. It happened that I already had a doctor's appointment booked for Dom in the afternoon so I just took her along, by which time she wasn't screaming constantly in pain but was refusing to put weight on her right foot. We went for x-rays, the doctor says he didn't see anything broken, but a specialist will look at them today and hopefully confirm she's just got a sprain. She's been fairly miserable ever since, woke up a lot last night, and doesn't want to be put down ever. I'm just hoping I don't get a phone call saying it's broken today!


I am the worst about stressing/freaking out about kids health. This is the first time I've had to take a child for x-rays on a bone before. So I realize that my kids are blessedly healthy but still, I freak out so much. I always pray for parents and kids with health issues during my litany when I say morning/evening prayer, but I feel like I need to do more because I can't imagine how hard it is.


Before all hell broke lose yesterday I finally finished a small gallery wall on our newish living area in our newish-ly finished basement. It's been on my to-do list since June. So of course it took me till the very last week of summer to actually accomplish! And of course I do one thing out of the regular routine of keeping people alive around here and...ALL HELL BREAKS LOSE. 


The sweetest Colleen tagged me in the writing meme going around because she is a sainted soul who thinks I actually write stuff. I just can't break her heart so I'll answer quickly and honestly! 
What are you working on? 
I am most definitely not working on a book. So stop those rumours! What? There are no rumours? Cmon guys! I feel highly accomplished if I tippity-tappity a blog post more than once a week. So that is usually all I work on.
What makes your work different from others in the same genre?
I have no idea. The blogging world is so good, and everything I say has been said before, but much better. I don't consider myself a "writer" by any stretch of the imagination. I don't feel I have the natural talent of so many of my friends, I definitely don't have the time to devout to honing any skills I do have, so I really think of myself as just blogging into the void.
Why do you write what you do?
I don't want to write noise or blather or anything that would waste your time. I don't think I write because I have anything at all unique to say really, I just feel a need to express myself somehow. I see it as a nice hobby for myself. I think I'd always wanted to write something, but I definitely don't have the time and dedication to write articles on specific subjects or work towards getting things actually published so blogging is the perfect medium for me right now. 
How does your writing process work?
Well this is a hilarious question. I usually have ten minutes here, ten minutes there and I usually write about what I have on my mind that day. I do zero planning ahead, very little editing. Obviously the quality of my writing shows this, I'm under no illusions. I usually feel extremely uncreative if I try to deliberately come up with "blog post" ideas. I'm not a naturally talented blogger like some who truly are made for this medium and thus have highly successful blogs. 

So does that count Colleen? I'm not sure if it does. I can't believe she picked me along with Jenny and the amazing Betty Duffy


I felt like I was being interviewed like a celebrity over at The Rhodes Log this week. Or at least interviewed by a celebrity! Kate asked questions about life with only small kids and babies as opposed to now with one barely-7 year old and a bunch of babies. The whole series has been really great, I've loved all the different answers from the various great women, so do check out all the posts. Kate is sweet and interesting just like her blog and I want to move next door to her and hope her coolness rubs off on me. Thanks for letting me drone on and on about babies, Babies, BABIES! 


I have also been remiss to tell you all about Blessed Is She, a daily Catholic women's devotional that will be beginning on Monday, September 1. It'll have the day's Mass readings, and a short devotional written by great writers, and me sometimes. I'm really excited to have this resource available, because as much as I love my Magnificat I sometimes completely miss out on reading it. Seeing the beautiful images with scriptures pop up on my Instagram have helped me already, I can't wait to read the meditations as well! 


Jen just asked what was the last song we listened to and for me it's Rolling Stone by Reuben and the Dark. For some reason I find it completely catchy and it gets stuck in my head and my husband doesn't understand. But there you have it! 

Happy long weekend to both Canada and the United States, it's nice when we share non-religious holidays sometimes...

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