Monday, February 19, 2018

The February Post

Oh, February.

A time for questioning. A time for contemplation.

Like questioning why I don't work full time. Why I continue to live in the actual boonies. Why people ever settled in this winter wasteland. You know, just the little questions.

Because February is rough.

I can't speak for you, but for some reason, be it the weeks on end of extreme cold, the tiny house I live in with my own offspring who in their own right are irritable and frustrated at constant confinement, and the always being around said offspring with the homeschooling business, February seems ridiculously hard.

It probably isn't the hardest winter I've experienced, but it does feel eternal when the temperatures haven't felt above -10C for the complete calendar month. It's sorta like a marathon of days after days looking the same, feeling the same, and people getting more and more on your nerves. A mental olympics for which there is no winner!

The perspective is that it does eventually end. Even though I can't realistically imagine it. It would be really nice if it ends by Easter...but I can't get my hopes up because we had snow for all of April last year...and I'm still feeling the effects/traumatized!

Difficult seasons for me can take on a very literal meaning. It is hard to keep going and plugging along when you know there is not quick fix in sight. There's no way of rushing spring or cold weather along. And that all goes exactly contrary to the very human desire to hurry the bad stuff up and stop languishing in the hard.

I'm getting older and maybe a bit better at realizing that we don't have to fix things or rush things or conquer difficult seasons. Firstly, because it's usually completely out of our control, but also because it's a part of life. Our human powers can't make things completely easy just be willing it enough or working hard enough. Difficult seasons are simply a fact.

Which isn't to say we can't get better at dealing with the difficult, at offering up our suffering, at changing our attitudes to embrace the hard. But that doesn't change that the hard is there and to be lived. It's just that slice of life we wish we could shrug off, which our culture and every social media channel tells us we need to ignore and/or conquer with positive thinking.

Difficult seasons happen. Our lives are composed of difficult and easier seasons and we've got to hold on to the fact that even in those difficult times when we feel bleak and frozen that we're still alive underneath it all. And hopefully will come back to life again in the spring.

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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

My best piece of self-care advice

I've got some words to say about self-care. And quite possibly my number one tip when it comes to self-care. The number one, easiest, most impactful piece of advice! My life changing piece of advice. Because I think we tend to talk about "self-care" as some vague term that means only big things and not simple daily practices that better our mental health. I want to stick to the simple and practical. But first, walk with me back in time. (insert wavy lines across the screen now)

I had 5 kids in less than six years. I had a brief couple months in between all five where I wasn't pregnant and/or nursing. There were constant diapers, bottles, naps, diapers, messes, and diapers. It was a constant barrage of needs to be met and lots of crying from kids and myself. Those days are really blurry and as difficult as they were, I really learnt a heck of a lot about myself and my husband in those difficult times. I had patches of postpartum depression and anxiety, and at times felt positively drowning and that my life would only and forever be overwhelming. It's not a great mental space. But this is what happens when human beings are in stressful situations, and raising five mini-humans is a stressful situation.

Because our life felt like it was hurtling along at 100 mph with babies coming every year my husband and I talked about our mental health often, if only to check in to make sure our heads were above water. But we learned very quickly that neither of us could handle the stress by ourselves, without talking it through with each other, and asking for support from each other. A couple of kids in when I felt like all I did was change diapers, feed, and soothe babies my husband realized that for the sake of my sanity we had to plan time for me to get out of the house. He realized the need and firmly told me that was what was happening even when I made excuse after excuse about babies needing me and being exhausted. So I would leave the house every week if I could for an afternoon, and sometimes every two weeks, but it was a standing thing that had to happen. Because it happened and I made it through a stressful, and very demanding time without completely losing my mind or myself.

It wasn't every day, it was every so often, sometimes for longer, sometimes for shorter. But I'm telling you, getting time for yourself is the biggest and best thing you can do for your mental health. Right now. Today. No matter what season you're in.

We've all been in times of survival mode where self care can't happen for whatever reason, but the first step to getting out of survival mode is to carve time for yourself to be alone. You can't get a mental break when someone is asking for something every five minutes. You don't recharge your own batteries by hiding in the bathroom while the kids watch Paw Patrol. You can't realize what would truly be live giving self-care if you don't even have time to realize what you personally need because you're always on baby duty.

Sometimes you don't know how much you need time alone if you've gone too long without it. 

If you're feeling at lose ends, like you don't know how to fix issues with your marriage or family or how to reignite the passions you had prior to having kids, it may be because you never have time alone to even fully ruminate on these very important things. Having that time for yourself creates space where you can begin to figure these things out. It allows you to listen to what your own needs might be, how to best meet them, what areas of your life need work and addressing, and maybe more opportunities to look at your life a bit more objectively rather than in the emotional throes of witching hour when the whole world feels like it's falling down around you.

I know some moms feel that in order to be a "super mom" or even a "good mom" that that means being available to their children all. the. time. But would we ask any other person of any other profession or vocation to never have time alone? Would we ask our parish priest to not even take an hour out of his daily schedule for himself? Do we think that people who work full time should come home from dinner and immediately get back to work with only intermittent breaks for sleep during the night? Then why as moms who are truly working 24/7, being completely emotionally and physically available to their babies and children think that they don't need time alone? We need to recognize that that mindset is deeply unhealthy and detrimental not only to our own mental health, but to our children, to our marriage, to the way we live our lives.

I want this advice to be simple. Find alone time for yourself. It may be before the kids wake up if you have an extremely active lifestyle or are blessed to be a morning person. It may be when kids nap simultaneously. It may be after your husband gets home from work before the kids go to bed. It may be after the kids go to bed. Find what time best works for you and your family. If your husband really and truly can't give you half an hour to an hour kid free because he's superman or some equivalent, don't feel guilty about asking for some babysitting time from family and friends, or just a regular ol' paid one, and spending that time not on errands and grocery shopping, but yourself. (Unless grocery shopping is deeply restoring for you, in which case you're probably a hero who doesn't need any of my advice!)

Also, this time you spend alone has to be spent doing what you want. Not what you need to do, not what you "should" do. Spend it blissfully bingeing The Crown. Spend it with a book. Spend it running or taking a gym class. Spend it alone at a coffee shop with tea, or strolling the aisles of Target. Don't forget to give yourself the gift of going out for lunch by yourself - that can change your damn life!

It can be out of the home or can be in your home. Just make it uninterrupted time, alone. It doesn't have to happen every day, but it does have to happen consistently and as often as possible. I think the most important step in trying to make big life changes like crawling out of survival mode begins with committing to small changes in our routine. Especially as moms, I think one of the biggest aspects of our lives for better or worse is our routines and how we utilize them. We aren't out of control of our lives just because we have small kids, we're still in control but change comes in little steps.

Just humour me if you don't think this one step will change your life. Commit to it for a week or two and see if you notice changes in how you feel, in how you think, in how happy you are. Let me be your life coach!

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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Living off the grid - time wise

I've been thinking lately how my daily routine as an at home mom has changed over the years. And it has changed a lot over the years but at the same time it hasn't. I sometimes have deep questioning thoughts if I'm a truly boring person who abhors change, or if I'm using routine because that's life with a bunch of kids.

I think I question because, frankly, I live really oddly. Living in a rural area and homeschooling means I don't actually even see a town some days. I don't have to get kids to school, I don't have to pick them up. I don't run errands, I don't hop in the car to grab coffee or see people. Which I'm sure makes me seem like a complete anti-social hermit. I get out of my house by walking down the road every day I don't go to town/the city to see my parents.

My schedule isn't made by anything outside of my own home and mostly, me. I'm the boss of me! I decide when I get up, when my kids get up, when school and sit down work gets done, what activities we go to and when, and usually when choosing these things they fit into my general routine. As in we focus on school most every morning barring a weird doctors appointment, make most activities fit into afternoons, and if not we have the flexibility to work other things around to make the things that don't fit perfectly work. I choose how to spend my time after I've dealt with school and kids. I decide when to cook and eat dinner. There are short periods of time where things get disrupted for one thing or another and I can feel the difference and stress it creates. I feel maxed out and rushed, but at the same time very unproductive.

Obviously I'm only speaking for me and my own weird existence, but whether it's from living this way for so long or not, I feel like I would really not enjoy living according to outside schedules. I mean, I would have to adapt, and I know I could do it, but I really don't want to! And I mean this in a very general way, because we all have appointments, and Mass, and activities, and meetings and lots of things that we have to show up for at certain times, but not having the daily rhythm of my day determined by outside factors is pretty swell.

But that's so odd! I'm so weird! It's so distinctly un-modern and uncommon. As a society we're so used to being told what to do, where to go, and when to be there. Which happens for very important reasons, but have we thought about the overreach of them all in our lives that much? Do we ever question "school" and work and the myriad of things we think we have to do? We really do have control over our own time.

I think I partly took to routine and making sure I'm making choices of how and when I fit all the things of life into my day because I had a bunch of babies in a short amount of time! Babies and their routines make you figure out that there should be a routine to your day, that you function better if you sleep, eat, and play on a regular schedule. As an adult this is still true. And as the adult of a bunch of babies, your way of survival is to get all babies on the same routine as to not lose your mind completely. As the fiftieth caveat of this short post; of course my babies weren't perfectly scheduled every day of their life, but the general rhythm of routine in our days was something that over time I learned really helped everyone including myself. Knowing that most days I'd have nap times to get a little time for myself was hugely relieving. Knowing that when babies woke up, I would nurse, then they would play put in perspective that their needs needed to be met before mine. And the list goes on and on.

I would never tell anyone to live as weirdly as I do. But I do think that intentionally looking at how we spend our time and how to use it valuably for ourselves; what we want to spend our time on, instead of the other way around and being forced to live in the leftovers of time the outside world dictates, can change our perspectives on how we're living our lives.

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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Hello 2018

Photo by Sam Beasley on Unsplash

I'm alive, but Blogger doesn't know it and asked me for my password. Which felt so uncomfortable. Like seeing an old high school acquaintance in a crowded bar, you should know them and they should know you, but you both don't really want to dredge up ancient history.

Thankfully, Google, unlike deadbeat high school friends, remembers your password, or at least resends it to you when you forget.

I feel like I forget how to blog to be quite honest. Which also feels kinda crumby because I think I used to be good at it. I definitely have always enjoyed it. And somehow in all the busy-ness I've let this drop which was not intentional. I am definitely a creature of habit so once I was out of the habit of blogging it seemed so impossible to pick up again. I've never had a sole purpose to the blog other than it for me to be an outlet to post whatever I want, whenever I want. I'm not a good documenter of everything my family does, and I hope my children's memories suffice. In these post-blog days we're not really defined by "niche" or "audience" or "sponsorships" much. Which is all alright for me, because I really just enjoy the practice of writing, the exchange of thoughts and lives of other women online. You're all a treasure for reading!

I've been busy elsewhere doing fun, creative "work" that really brings me life that I'm so grateful for. I love podcasting. I love writing and contributing to Blessed is She. They've both been richly rewarding for the amount of time I put in, which at times is definitely not as much as I wish I could put it.

But 2018, I'm going to blog. It might not be often, or earth-shattering, or well-curated, but dang it, it's going to be published. And if that's not a rousing endorsement to follow the heck out of this space, then you're a far more discerning reader than I!

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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Blessed is She Blessed Conversations Study Guides

I'm so excited to share with you a project I worked on a few months ago with the lovely Blessed is She team - the Blessed Conversations study guides. These guides are short, but deep dives into the Catechism on various topics of the Faith that are meant to bring you and your small group, large group, couple of girlfriends closer together in great discussion.

I contributed the reflections for the guide on the Ten Commandments and boy, did it challenge me as a writer and a daughter of God to explore what the Ten Commandments mean for us on a daily basis. The Catechism offers so much wisdom into what the Ten Commandments mean for us as Christians and I was surprised to learn how many aspects of our life the Catechism explores through the lens of the Commandments. I really hope that this guide helps you to understand that the Ten Commandments are foundational to our lives and part of God's direct word to us in how to live.

The guides are downloadable so the price point stays low and you can print them off at your convenience, and you can also choose between the different guides as to what best appeals to your group of ladies. I think these guides will give so much to groups that are already formed, but also a great way to start a group if you aren't in one already.

Hope you can jump over to Blessed is She and grab a guide for yourself and your small group today!

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

What I've Been Reading Lately (or six months ago)

I desperately need to get to my quick book reviews because I'm about 30 books behind! But on the other post material! Have you read any of these? Am I nuts? Let me know all your bookish thoughts.

Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple

This book didn't land for me, and I'm still trying to pinpoint why exactly. It's written in the same quick, witty style as Semple's first novel, Where'd You Go, Bernadette, which I enjoyed so much. It tells the story of one day in the life of a Seattle woman, her family quirks are delved into, a funny child comes along for the ride, and a marital mystery is solved. But for some reason this story didn't feel as emotionally poignant or compelling as Bernadette. I didn't love the anti-Catholic jibes on every other page, and I'm just not sure how I should feel about the ending. I just feel conflicted about the entire book and I'm not sure why!

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

This is a slim book compiled of the letters between a book buyer and a book seller separated by the Atlantic. It's perfectly charming and the fact it's the real letters between two people make it even more enjoyable. I just love books of letters, I love the by-gone culture of letter writing, and I definitely love buying books so I loved this book. If you're not a lover of any of those things though, I'm pretty sure you wouldn't love it as much.

The Warden by Anthony Trollope

My Trollope book of 2016, it was a often times hilarious introduction to the Barcetshire chronicles, Trollope's masterpiece series. Trollope is an acquired taste. Or maybe not so much acquired, but a practiced taste. He's so rich in societal commentary, character studies, and witticisms that reading his books is worth it. But it does take time to get used to the Victorian prose, the lengthy development of plot, and being transported to another world. Now I want to go read more Trollope.

Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante

The third instalment of the Neapolitan Novels, this book was intense. I still don't know if I should be making judgements on the characters yet, but I found this novel to be so packed with emotion and conflict on so many levels it really held my attention. I totally get why these novels aren't some readers cup of tea, but to me they are just un-put-down-able. I'm even putting off reading the last book because I don't want them to end somehow, maybe for fear of being disappointed that all this complex story telling will have an unsatisfying ending. I'll let you know!

Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny

The sixth book in the series and I think the novel that I enjoyed the most. The setting of Quebec City was so perfectly set that I loved each scene. I also thought that structurally this is Penny's finest work in the series yet. The only negative comment I would add is that I feel Penny's Canadian history is pretty biased and it stuck out to me like a sore thumb within the story. But the pacing was perfectly done, an almost-perfect mystery!

This was quick. I'm going to post more soon! Until then I'm linking this up with Modern Mrs Darcy and Quick Lit!

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Friday, June 16, 2017

Seven Quick Takes vol. 159

After a long absence, I'm hitting the SQT's hard with Kelly.


Been painting my front door!

Well, two months really goes quickly doesn't it guys?
It's been over two months since I've blogged and it feel like a blur because things have been so busy. 

Here's a quick catch up for you though: April was a big, fat mess of weather. So much snow over Easter, it never left, I was such a complaining basket case I wouldn't let myself blog at all because I was so negative. 
May: We did a million things, birthdays, travelled, sucked up the finally snow-less weather.
June: Soccer practices, extra games, fun things on every weekend, it's half over and I could cry!


But what really impacted my very limited time to scribble and type up some bloggity blog business was an extra writing project I was working on. It still shocks me how little spare time I have until I try to take on even one more extra, not that big, project. I really enjoyed the writing though once I got into the swing of writing more often and under a deadline. 

In further shocking news I was asked to speak at an NFP fundraiser dinner last week in Calgary! I'm not a speaker but it is a topic that I have a lot to say about, so after I finished the writing project it was straight to working on a talk. I think it turned out alright and although I'll never be a professional speaker I'm proud of myself for doing it.  I didn't faint from fear so I've gotta be proud. If the talk is ever put online I'll try to share it with you if you're interested.


We've done so much in the last two months it's hard to know what to share! 

We did go on a quick family road trip to Calgary and Drumheller at the beginning of May and we all had a really great time. The kids saw the dinosaur museum for the first time, enjoyed the luxuries of a waterslide and the endless fruit loops of a chain hotel's continental breakfast, we enjoyed no crowds and nice weather. 

It's still shocking to me how we have to schedule even short trips away a ways in advance or they will never happen with things coming up every weekend. But we had a really nice time!


The kids have been in swimming and soccer during April, May, and June so it has made my week's feel packed even though it's just me driving them places. The life of a mother, amiright? They've all had a great time, and the time's of the practices have made my life a little less exhausting than past years, but I'm driving a lot. Because everything's at least half an hour away - if I'm lucky! 



May and June have been so lovely! Especially after the world's worst April! It's been so nice to have things growing and green and kids outside. We planted our garden the week after May long weekend, and it's coming up sporadically which is always a pisser-offer, but fingers crossed we get some produce before September. I still have to hold myself back from buying an entire greenhouse worth of flowers every spring and all the funky planters I see. I did however, buy the best planter in the world; Rhonda. A Greek bust that's been turned into a planter. Best HomeSense buy I've ever had and it still makes me ridiculously happy. 


We officially finished all school this week and it could not come any slower. Math has been sucking the life out of me while simultaneously making me an angry gargoyle. I'm basically done for the rest of my life. Unfortunately, next school year I'm going to have 4 kids needing instruction so we are shaking up the curriculum for sure. The rest of the school year was pretty successful actually. The kids are going to still be doing workbooks and Latin over the summer, and hopefully some more nature journalling. But really, I could go for a nanny this summer. I know regular moms are freaking out because they've got their kids home all day everyday since school's out, but it's even more bitterly disappointing when your a homeschool mom and basically nothing changes as you go into summer! I'm feeling a bit burnt out and exhausted, but I think that could be the culmination of the last couple busy months. My solution is a nanny. It's not going to happen but I'm going to try for at least a morning a week off, if I can make it happen somehow! Pray for me and a miraculous nanny to fall from the sky!


The podcast is still up and kicking and we're planning on new episodes into July! Because we're organized?? I know, I can't believe it either. We've had so many excellent episodes the past couple months because of the great guests who have been gracious enough to come on and chat with us. I've really enjoyed talking to each and every one of them and I hope they've been as awesome to listen to.

It's off for another busy weekend this weekend with a First Holy Communion for Dom and Father's Day, but I'm going to be getting back in some kind of blogging groove next week...probably because that magical nanny is going to drop by any time Mary Poppins style. Dare to dream! 

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