Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Little Mid-Advent Inspiration

So far, Advent hasn't been too great for me.

I have been very lukewarm about preparing for Christ's arrival.

I'm still not feeling quite at home in our new city, and we have been dealing with illness after illness, teething, and night wakings.  It's been exhausting.  I would say that although I have been complaining an awful lot to God, I have been neglecting my relationship with Him.

Thankfully, He is so generous and merciful--always ready for us to begin again.  He is always there, waiting for us to "put down our nets" and follow Him.  Now, finally, mid-way through Advent, I am ready.

Something that helped bring me here was a Lighthouse Catholic Media talk entitled "Love Hurts:  The Truth Behind Redemptive Suffering."  I listened to it once before, but yesterday, while ironing and folding laundry, I listened more carefully.

It was exactly what I needed to hear and ponder upon...


All of us suffer.
But our suffering doesn't have to bring misery.  In fact, as Christians, it should bring us joy.

I needed to be reminded of this.
I needed to be reminded that since we're going to suffer anyway, we might as well do something efficacious with it.
I also needed to be reminded of the reasons we do voluntary penance.

Advent is a time to detach ourselves from the fleeting aspects of this world and seek the eternal.
It is a time to go deeper.

In order to draw closer to God, I pray He will help me with the following:

Slow down my prayers and mean the words I am saying.
Go to Adoration and be with Jesus, even if it's just for five minutes.
Go to confession.
Be more generous in the love I give to others.
Remember why I'm alive.


I hope your Advent is going well, but if it isn't, there is still time for you to start again, too. God's blessings be upon you. May you truly experience the beauty and love of this season.

Friday, December 5, 2014

QT: 7 Things I Love About Belgium (or Why You Should Go There on Your European Vacation)

For nine months, my husband, older son, and I lived an adventure in Europe.  The company my husband works for reassigned him to a position in one of their Belgian offices.  It was an amazing nine months.  It wasn't always easy, but we got to do a lot of something that I love, which is travel.  I knew very little about Belgium going into the move, but I grew to love the country and its many beautiful offerings.

Here are my top seven favorite things about Belgium.


Madonna and Child Statue by Michelangelo
I got to visit Bruges (Brugges) several times, and I loved to visit the church where this statue was housed.  It is one of the few pieces by Michelangelo to leave Italy.  One of the reasons I love it so much is because it reminds me of my favorite statue by Michelangelo, the Pieta, which is located in St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.


Bruges (Brugges)
I just mentioned that the Madonna and Child statue is in Bruges, but this list would not be authentic if I didn't also mention how much I love the city of Bruges.   It's located in the Flemish region of Belgium, but many of the proprietors speak French.  Many people also speak English, which made visiting much easier.  What makes Bruges special is that it is a gorgeous city, with a small town feel.  It is accessible by train, and you can walk quite quickly to the city center from the station.  There are many delicious restaurants to try, as well as delectable chocolate shops and a wonderful cookie shop. The city is sometimes called the "Venice of the North" because of its romantic channels throughout.  We enjoyed taking boat tours and strolling down the idyllic cobblestone streets.  Beauty abounds in Bruges, and it is a photographer's dream.  There are also a plethora of art galleries, many of which have no entrance fee.  There's so much to explore in Bruges, one could easily spend a couple days there, although the highlights can be seen during a day trip.


We had some good eats while we lived in Belgium.  My favorites were Waterzooi (chicken or fish dish with a deletable cream sauce), Carbonnade Flammande (a delicious beef stew), fresh gauffres (waffles)--the plain kind with pearl sugar, fresh chocolates, and fresh frites (fries).  Interestingly, we lost weight while we lived in Belgium, even though we indulged in these treats quite often.  Perhaps it was all of the walking we did, or maybe it had something to do with the fact that fast food was not as readily available.  Eating at the Belgian restaurants was a fun experience, because you usually got something very tasty.


Quaint Villages
We decided to live in one of the smaller villages when we chose our rental home.  I'm so glad we did. It allowed me to get a closer look at the quaintness of some of the smaller towns in Belgium.  I enjoyed exploring our town and discovering the treasures contained in their local Catholic churches.  They had some amazing art inside, and I wondered if they truly realized how blessed they were to own these items.  I loved visiting the small shops and buying a poulet rotis (rotisserie chicken) or a fresh ham and cheese sandwich on a baguette and attempting to use my hard-earned French.

Catholic Church in Lasne (Plancenoit), Belgium


Le Grand' Place
It's sort of a square in the center of Brussels, and it makes an impression.  I loved standing in the middle and gazing out as I turned in a circle.  I loved the people watching.  The restaurants were great.  It was a short distance from Mannequin Pis, waffle shops, chocolate shops, and more.  It is a must-see, but more importantly, a must-experience.


Chateau de Le Hulpe
Acres and acres of public land complete with exquisite gardens, wooded trails, and a chateau (Solvay Castle, apparently.  Just learned this now!).  It used to be owned by a family, but they gifted it to the public, and now you can explore the grounds for free (sans the chateau's interior).  Not much is free in Belgium (*ahem* public restrooms), but this is, and it's a true treasure.  I went there so many times, and if I go back to Belgium, I hope to visit it again.


La Butte du Lion
We lived quite close to this architectural wonder, and it was always fun to drive by.  It is at the site of the famed Battle of Waterloo, and although the indoor museum/panorama leave something to be desired, the Lion's Mound is a must-see.  It is invigorating to climb the stairs to the top and peer out at the beauty of the Belgian countryside.  You can also catch a nice aerial view of Waterloo.

~ ~ ~

Belgium will always hold a special place in my heart.  There are so many quality sites to see and experiences to be had there, and if I can convince just one person to visit Belgium on their European tour, I will be satisfied.

Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum is the new host for Seven Quick Takes!  Thank you, Kelly!  For more Quick Takes, go to !

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Simplify - Cut the Clutter

Have you heard about the Catholic podcast called This Inspired Life?  I just listened to Kristen's most recent interview with the woman who is said to have started the Capsule Wardrobe: Courtney Carver.  They discussed Courtney's journey in simplifying her life, starting with her diet and then her wardrobe.  I recently began following un-fancy, which is a blog by a woman named Caroline who writes about and posts photos of her own capsule wardrobe, so I was intrigued to learn a little more about the concept.

This really speaks to me, because I do feel weighed down by the things I own.  I want to get rid of stuff, but I feel paralyzed.  I am the type of person who really struggles with keeping my possessions and information organized.

It all reminds me of The FLY Lady, who I began following after my younger son was born.  I was so overwhelmed by keeping my life organized with a newborn who needed to be held/worn most of the day.  I learned that I needed to use small steps, such as focusing on cleaning one section of the house...or whatever I could get finished in 15 minutes (set a timer).  I have tried using the 15-minute method when tackling a "hot spot" in the house (i.e., the clutter on my sewing table/desk), and it is great for helping very overwhelming jobs appear more manageable.

So anyway, I am looking forward to checking out Courtney's website Be More with Less and learning her ideas for simplifying life.

As I was listening to the podcast, I already started rearranging my closet and pulling some items out that I really don't like.  Since I recently decided I wanted to be more careful about the clothes I buy and try to stick with items that are more ethically made (i.e., fair trade), I haven't bought many new clothes, so I have room to focus on what I really need.  This also reminds me about something else I heard about a few years ago regarding purging your belongings.  I think it's meant to be used during Lent, but since Advent is a season of repentance and detachment, I may attempt to get rid of some of my other possessions, too.  The FLY lady says that if you have less stuff, you have more time to love others.  I think she is so wise, and I can totally see where that makes sense.  If I need to spend less time shuffling our household belongings around...maintaining our belongings and such, then there is more time to focus on relationships and helping others.

I am excited about this!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Grief After a Move

I've moved many times.  It's always a difficult process.  Not only do you deal with transporting all of your stuff, but you also deal with sorting through a number of different emotions.  Depending on the reason for the move, you may be relieved or depressed. Depending on the situation you are moving into, you may be ecstatic or full of dread.

Right now, it's been five months since our last move.  I miss the friends I had to leave behind.  I miss the church and school communities that felt like family.  The outpouring of support from that community following the birth of my second son was outstanding.

Today, I realized that I haven't really grieved my losses since my family moved.  Here and there, I have felt sad, but before today, I didn't allow the emotions to unfold.  I'm not sure why.  Perhaps, I was overwhelmed by the tasks of settling into a new house, town, and church.  I guess it just wasn't time yet.

This past weekend, we visited our old town.  It was a little emotional, because it's the one year anniversary of a tornado touchdown that destroyed large chunks of the community. My family was in town the day of that tornado--we were in church with some of the people who lost their homes.  Surviving the disaster bonded us with the community in a way that can't be replicated.

Maybe remembering that scary day prodded my emotions along.

No matter the cause, I will allow myself to feel this pain and to recognize this loss.  I will not rush myself--I will process my feelings as I need to.

Eventually, little-by-little, I will get the courage to meet new people.  I will join the choir or invite someone over for coffee or maybe even seek out a moms' group.  I will entrust this to God.  I will pray for Him to place some good people He would like me to meet in my life, and I will try to be patient.

In the past, my relationships didn't develop overnight, and I know it will take time here, too.

I will pray that God will place good friends in my husband's and my son's lives, as well.

We prayed about and entrusted this move to God prior to my husband's job assignment, and I believe that we are here for a reason.

I will trust in you, Lord.

Friday, November 14, 2014

7 Quick Takes about "The Hour of Power", "Carefree Timelessness", and a great quote


432 months
I recently completed yet another revolution around the sun.  My younger son is small enough that his age is still communicated in months.  I thought it would be fun to enumerate my life in months, too.


"Hour of Power"
Drew Mariani from Relevant Radio usually prays the Chaplet of Divine Mercy at the 3 o'clock hour.  I pick up my older son from school around that time, so I usually catch a bit of it.  Captivating.  It's such a good reminder to pray during that time, and it's uplifting to hear stories of the answered prayers.  I highly recommend tuning in to Drew's program either on the radio (stations & affiliates), the web, or the app.


Writing preferences
This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to attend a craft fair at our church.  I happened upon an artisan who was selling some lovely, fabric-covered notebooks.  I've since done some writing in the one I bought, and I realized how much I enjoy putting the pen to the paper.  I think the very act of scribbling may be more therapeutic for me than typing.  What do you prefer:  The keyboard or paper and pen?


Fair Trade
I've been thinking a lot lately about the people who make the stuff I buy.  Every once in a while, I wonder what I can do to contribute to a fair wage--ever since college when I was part of a group called the Sweatshop Action Coalition.  Unfortunately, coming away from that experience, I did not feel very empowered.  At that time, alternatives to buying items made in sweatshops or factories which used questionable work practices were slim.  Now, besides buying second-hand goods, there are many more options for purchasing "fair trade" items.  Catholic Relief Services offers an online list of retailers who sell fair trade products--clothing and beyond.  Perhaps you will find some Christmas gifs for your loved ones in these online shops!


"Carefree Timelessness"
On my drive home after meeting a friend for lunch, I caught a Matthew Kelly talk on the radio.  He touched on several themes; however, one idea stuck with me.  According to Kelly, people in thriving relationships engage in "carefree timelessness."  I thought about my fondest memories involving my husband, children, family and friends.  Many of these moments of carefree timelessness were spent on vacations, but just as many were activities that cost little to nothing.  For example, several of the activities that have strengthened our bonds include taking leisurely hikes through the woods or strolls around the neighborhood.


I am currently listening to another Lighthouse Catholic Media talk--this time on the theme of suffering.  I am looking forward to listening a second time, while taking notes, because the speaker, Matthew Leonard, weaves inspirational scripture within his storytelling and explanation.  I plan on revisiting this talk, so I won't reveal too much, except that you have to listen to it just to hear the magnificent words his young daughter said to him during her own time of suffering.  Absolutely breathtaking.


Really Good Quote
While on the subject of suffering, I wanted to share with you a quote from Mother Assumpta Long.  I was blessed to be able to see her speak at the latest Behold Conference.  She said,

"Suffering will make you bitter or better."

Thank you, Mother Assumpta.

Today, Kelly from This Ain't the Lyceum, is hosting 7QT.  Head on over there for more Quick Takes!

Friday, November 7, 2014

7 Quick Takes About "Contemporary Sainthood," "Losing Nothing of Ourselves," & Other Fantastic Ideas


"Contemporary Sainthood"
I just listened to a very inspiring Lighthouse Catholic Media talk entitled "Contemporary Sainthood" by Mark Hart. Although he is addressing an audience of teens, the message applies to anyone aged teen and above.  In the first talk (it's a double feature), Mark Hart contends that if we are constantly bitter, angry, or bored, it could be due to our lives not being in line with our call to be saints.  He shares ideas regarding how to "unleash" the power to becoming a saint, as well as a profound insight from Pope Benedict XVI that I want to remember always:
 "You were not designed for comfort; you were designed for greatness." 


We Lose Nothing of Ourselves
In my most recent post, I reflected on ideas for increasing simplicity, appreciating beauty, and finding truth.  I shared some thoughts on Jesus's call for us to give to others, without a calculation of whether or not we will get some type of return on our "investment":

"...we are called to love, help, and be kind even to those for whom it is difficult to love, help, and be kind.  This can be very difficult.  It requires a firm foundation in identity, a knowledge that we are loved immensely by God, maturity, humility, and the understanding that if our gift is not reciprocated or even if it is rejected, we have not lost anything of ourselves.  Nothing is lost when you attempt to give genuine love to others.  Love is multiplied no matter the response."


Not the Right Season
With having a toddler, I am not able to volunteer at my older son's elementary school during school hours.  I was able to do that quite often before my younger son was born, so it doesn't bother me too much.  However, when I do feel a tad bit guilty that I'm not willing to find a daytime sitter so I can help with lunch duty or room parties, I think of this helpful post from Kathryn at Team Whitaker.


"Listening Room"
I absolutely love the tone of this post from Nell of Whole Parenting Family.  Her idea of making it known to your child that you are listening to him or her is such a tender, yet firm approach to parenting a sensitive child.  I just love the idea of a "listening room," where he knows you have heard him, and he also learns to hopefully hear you.   The entire post is helpful, because it reinforces that you need to have a plan of what you will do when your child begins to melt down.  For me, a plan = less yelling.


"Little Moment Parenting"
Another blog post that I really appreciate is one by Bonnie Engstrom of A Knotted Life, in which she explains why she has decided to go from "Big Picture Parenting" to focusing more on the day-to-day opportunities. Very enlightening.


Skyview App
As part of my older son's scouting activities, we visited a nearby planetarium and learned interesting tidbits about the constellations, the stars, the planets and more.  With this newfound appreciation for outer space, I decided to download the free app, SkyView.  It's a lot of fun to hold my phone up to the night sky and find constellations, names of stars, planets, the international space station, and information about the moon.  It's a great app, and it's FREE!


Scarf Tying Tutorial
Some international co-workers of my husband visited the U.S. over the summer, and they brought a gift for me.  I was surprised and delighted; that was really thoughtful of them!  They gave me a scarf (for fashion, not warmth).  Well, it has some beautiful what-I-would-call fall colors, so I decided to give it a try on Sunday.  I figured I could find a nice how-to guide online regarding how to wear it, and I found this video, which I really liked.  Since there are only eight main examples, I didn't feel too overwhelmed, which was important to me since I'm a newbie.

Thanks for hosting, Jen!  For more Quick Takes, go to!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Simplicity - Beauty - Truth

If you are interested in ideas to simplify your life, if you are a lover of beauty, and if you are searching for Truth, then this post is for you.


Although it can be good to pray different types of devotions, they are not necessary.

The Holy Rosary is a beautiful prayer, as it calls upon the intercession of Mary (asking Mary to pray for you) and allows you to meditate on the Gospels.  If you can pray one daily or if you can pray a Decade daily, then that's great!  You may be surprised at how you suddenly DO have time to squeeze one in when you entrust this to God.  The same goes for the Chaplet of Divine Mercy--what a beautiful prayer of compassion, love, and forgiveness!  However, if your day or your season of life is completely crazy--if you are in survival mode--you may only be able to pray some of the Rosary or some of the Chaplet (maybe not all in one sitting)--or perhaps none at all.

I don't think God cares.

What He cares about is being with you.  Are you "present" to Him every day?  Are you open to how He wants your day to pan out?  Do you trust His care for your life?

Go to Him throughout your day and just be with Him.  This is the more important thing.


Aesthetics can be wonderful.  God gave the world physical beauty, such as unspoiled nature, and He gave humans the ability to create magnificent works of art (paintings, photography, sculptures, song, dance, storytelling, and more).  However, we know that beauty which delights the senses is not the only type of true beauty.

There is a deeper sort of beauty.

Caring for an ailing loved one.
Sticking it out in a relationship when it no longer seems convenient or gratifying.
Allowing someone to help you in your time(s) of need.
Listening to those who feel isolated.
Recognizing your own limits and attempting to take care of your body by getting adequate rest, nourishment, and physical activity.

These are some examples.


In today's Gospel reading, Jesus instructs us to do loving acts for the right reasons.  When we offer love, we should not expect some type of return from the recipient(s).  This is a challenging assignment.

Our culture seems to be quite driven by reinforcements.  When it comes to certain tasks, if I receive no positive reinforcement, sometimes I find it very difficult to continue with that task.  That is, unless I somehow derive an internal positive reinforcement from the action.  I find that the momentum of habit can also aid in continuance of a task that is good, yet quite unpleasant.

One type of internal, positive reinforcement experienced from helping others may be the cliched "warm, fuzzy feeling."  Awareness that doing something loving can improve the recipient's life (even if they are ungrateful or oblivious) can be another form of motivation for doing good.  Remembering that we are God's hands and feet--that our gestures of love can be examples of God's love to another--can reinforce to us the importance of gift-giving without an expectation for reciprocity.

In summary, we are called to love, help, and be kind even to those for whom it is very difficult to love, help, and be kind.  This can be very difficult.  It requires a firm foundation in identity, a knowledge that we are loved immensely by God, maturity, humility, and the understanding that if our gift is not reciprocated or even if it is rejected, we have not lost anything of ourselves.  Nothing is lost when you attempt to give genuine love to others.  Love is multiplied no matter the response.

What are your thoughts on devotions, true beauty, and Truth?  Feel free to leave a comment!

You can also follow me on Bloglovin'!

Friday, October 31, 2014

7 QT about an inspiring book, a life-changing quote, and some thoughts about choice

1. I have been reading Clare's Costly Cookie to my son, and we have both really enjoyed it.  The author is very skilled at teaching children how to talk to God and how to examine their consciences.  I think this is a great book to read to children who will be receiving the Sacraments of Reconciliation and First Communion for the first time and older children, too.  I have found it to be helpful in planting the seed of desire for confession and adoration in my own heart, as well.  I highly recommend this book.  You can order it from Holy Heroes.

2. My 9 tips for sewing on Cub Scouts patches post is up now.
If you find yourself procrastinating with sewing on new patches, you may find my tips helpful.  I have gone from being quite anxious about sewing them on to feeling much more confident.

3. Have you ever tried the Lumosity games?  For a while, I had a habit of playing them four or five nights a week on my phone.  I think they were really helpful with improving my attention, memory, and mental computation skills.  

4. With the 40 Days for Life Campaign going on right now, I decided to listen to a Lighthouse Catholic Media talk by Lila Rose this week.  It was riveting and challenging.  At the end of her talk, there was a bonus segment by Matt Smith from his talk "God of My Future."  This excerpt had many great nuggets of truth, as well as a C.S. Lewis quote that I can't stop thinking about:
  “For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity.”― C.S. LewisThe Screwtape Letters

I have always struggled with being fully present.  So many times in my life when I am not happy with what is going on, I just escape to the past or a probable future in my mind.  What a waste.  I know I'm not the only person who has trouble with embracing the moment, especially when it is not a desirable situation.  Hearing Matt Smith expound on C.S. Lewis's quote gave me a new way to look at living more fully in the present.

5. I have really been enjoying a round of philosophical emails about life with one of my friends.  She and I have different viewpoints and faith backgrounds, but I have to say that she is one of my dearest friends, and my life is enriched because of her.  The way she thinks and sees the world challenges me to more fully understand why I believe what I do.  I once saw Sister Helena Burns speak, and I remember her mentioning that she had a close friend who was of a different faith background than she (perhaps agnostic or atheist--I'm not sure), and someone who tired of this friend's comments on Sister's Facebook page suggested that the friend be blocked.  Sister Helena replied with a resounding "Never!"  That made a strong impression on me, and I have to say that I count my blessings often that this friend of mine is in my life.

6. Not too long ago, I watched a TED talk by Barry Schwartz called The paradox of choice.  It was a fascinating talk, and one thing he said really made me think.  He said that he assigns about 20% less work to his university students now than he used to.  The reason for this is because students' minds are more occupied than the minds of past generations.  He said it is due to students having more choices to make in life, such as whether or not they will get married now or later or have children, etc.  In the past, people just got married and had children at a set time in their lives and didn't deliberate over these questions regarding "when" or even "if".  Very interesting.  I know I have struggled with an over abundance of choices before.  For example, upon returning to the U.S. after living abroad for nine months, I found the cracker aisle in Wal-mart to be quite overwhelming.   

7. I need to remember to stress to my son that Halloween is really "All Hallow's Eve."  Perhaps I will get out our Saints books and try to read some throughout the month of November.  Speaking of Saints and All Saints' Day, Bonnie at A Knotted Life has some great ideas for celebrating this time of the year.  Happy Halloween!

Thanks for hosting, Jen!  For more Quick Takes, go to Conversion Diary.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

9 Tips for Sewing on Cub Scout Patches

I don't really enjoy doing extra-fine motor types of activities such as sewing by hand.  It's always been somewhat difficult for me.

When my older son joined Cub Scouts last year, it was during a time period when my infant son could not be put down.  So, I sewed the patches on whilst holding a baby on my lap, which was kind of exciting, because I was doing something productive while holding him.  However, it was pretty brutal.

A couple weeks ago, I needed to sew on some new patches, because we moved over the summer, so I updated the council, the pack number, and the den number.  After spending 45 minutes on the den patch, I knew I needed to do something different.  So, I searched around for some online tips, and I came up with one idea of my very own.

My hope is that if you are having a not so fun time at sewing on your scout patches, these tips will help you, so you don't have to resort to paying someone to sew them on.

1) Don't aim for perfection.  If your stitches are not the same size, or if you have a bit of a mess on the back side of the shirt, don't worry.  I doubt anyone will notice but you.  The goal is to add the patches so that they look pretty good and will stay affixed.

2) This was a game changer for me:  Use a curved upholstery needle. 

I recently had to mend the binding on a rug, so I bought a few upholstery needles.  While working on the rug, I wondered if a curved needle would be useful for sewing on Cub Scout patches...  Yes, it is!  I used a smaller/medium sized curved needle for the patches.  You can use trial and error to choose the best size for you.  If someone out there is good at physics, maybe you can explain why the curved needle is so much easier than the straight one for thick materials.  All I know is that your fingers will thank you!

3) Use a straight pin to hold the patch in place before you start to sew.  You may need to adjust the patch as you tack it on, but this will help immensely.  

4) Do NOT attempt to iron on the patch.  There is some type of plastic on the back, but the patches are not "iron on."  If you use an iron to try to apply the patches to the shirt, it will create a sticky substance that will not come off the shirt very easily if you have to remove/replace patches.  I say this from experience.

5) Similar to #4, do NOT use a patch adhesive (such as Badge Magic) that is available in stores.  It may make applying the patches a little easier, but it is said that it's not easy/impossible to remove.

6) When adding the pack numbers, first pin the numbers together, and then sew them together.  

If you have a sewing machine, you may be able to use this.  I did it by hand, and it made it worlds easier to sew them all onto the shirt sleeve.  This site gave me the idea.

7) Do NOT double your thread.  That was a mistake I was making.  You only need a single thickness of thread.  Doubling it creates more room for error.  Thank you to commenter, LT, on this site for the idea.

8) If you need an idea of how to start your thread and finish it off after you are done sewing, here is a pictorial.

9) If you aren't sure where to place the patches, this site or this site can link you to some guides.

Now I feel much more confident that I can sew on any future patches without it taking an eternity and without having a nervous breakdown.  I hope you find these tips helpful, as well.  If you have any additional tips to share, please add them in the comments section!  

Friday, October 24, 2014

7 Quick Takes About Sewing Cub Scout Patches, Scheduling Breaks and Confession, & Catholic Psych's Blog Post

~Sewing Cub Scout Patches~
My family moved this past summer, so my son is in a new Cub Scout Pack and Den.  This requires new patches.  The first time I sewed patches onto his Cub Scout shirt, I did so while an infant napped on my lap.  That was fun and not difficult at all...   So, I was not surprised when I dreaded updating his patches.  I ended up searching for some tips online, and now I think I can somewhat tolerate sewing on any new patches.  I plan on dedicating a separate post to my tips for sewing on Cub Scout patches, so stay tuned.
~Weekend Dread~
The other day, while waiting to pick my son up from school, I overheard two moms discussing the upcoming weekend.  One mom reported that she felt excited about the weekend, but then quickly questioned her happiness, because hasn't she learned that the weekends bring chaos and more craziness than week days?  Unfortunately, I have felt this way before, too, but I don't want to live like that!  Now I just try to focus on the fact that it's very nice to be able to hang out with my entire family.  Also, a few alterations upon entering the weekend have helped relieve the dread...

~Communicating Weekend Expectations~
As a person who often just "goes with the flow," I have occasionally resented how my weekends turn out.  This is typically due to me not making my desires for the weekend known to my spouse.  Simple communication to him regarding what I would also like to accomplish can be enough to help matters.  For example, if I am feeling that I need a break, saying so can sometimes afford me an hour or two by myself, which does wonders for refreshing me.

~Scheduling Confession~
Just last weekend, I recognized that I was in desperate need of going to Confession.  Before the weekend began, I added two calendar entries to my husband's and my shared online calendar.  I even "invited" him to the events so that he would surely see them.  One event was for confession on Saturday afternoon, while the second was for Sunday morning's.  With his attention already drawn to the idea that I wanted to go, on Friday evening, I asked him which day would work best for us.  Since I added it to the calendar, it became an official event for our weekend, and thankfully I did get to go.

Back to the topic of extreme busy-ness, sometimes I wonder what the purpose of over-scheduling is.  What is the point of being so busy that there is no time to relax?  I guess some people probably thrive on it, but I know it is unhealthy for our family.  We need down time.  When my older son was in two after school activities following the birth of our second son, we finally nixed one of the activities.  It was simply too much for us.  After that, we could breathe again, and the chaos subsided somewhat.  I don't know about anyone else, but I almost feel that homework is almost like its own extracurricular activity.  Upon arriving home from school, after you factor in snack, chores, homework, supper, and bedtime routine, there's not much time left to play and be a kid.  It makes me a little sad.

~Interesting Blog~
I recently began following the Catholic Psych Institute's blog, and I found the most recent blog post to be quite thought-provoking.

~Housework Tips~
Over the years, I have collected many tips on housework that I think could be very helpful to others, so I plan on putting together a blog post of those tips, too.  

Thanks for hosting, Jen!  For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Friday, October 10, 2014

First Quick Takes, Machu Picchu Book, Kitty Cat Harness & More

This is my first 7 Quick Takes ever!
Even though I know I don't have an audience yet, I don't feel this is a waste of time.  Writing has often been therapeutic for me.  This is also good practice, so I can sharpen my skills.
This is not my first blog ever.  I kept a blog for a short while when my family lived overseas for nine months.  I also kept a different blog when I was struggling with secondary infertility.  Perhaps this world and that one will collide one day.
I have a special kitty cat who loves to be outside.  He used to have free reign when we lived in the country (as in not in the city).  Unfortunately, we moved to a city, and he cannot go out unattended anymore (roads!).  We are thinking about maybe getting an invisible fence for him, but in the meantime, we use this handy harness to take him outside.
Cub Scouts is such a great organization for my son.  He gets exposed to various activities--it's quite diverse.  I'm really looking forward to getting some popcorn soon, too!
I am currently reading this book which chronicles an author's adventures to Machu Picchu.  Ever since I saw the Travel Channel show where Sam Brown visited the ruins, I have wanted to go there someday.  Anyway, the book was a gift from my husband several years ago, and I am finally getting around to reading it.  So far, it is very entertaining!
A few years ago, I also added the Holy Land to my travel wish list.  It's difficult to know if that will ever pan out...

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Avoiding a Rushed Life

I was reading through a blog post from The Fisk Files today and followed a link to a blog unknown to me called Sipping Lemonade.  Lauren's newest post includes several of her favorite Mother Teresa quotes.  I read through them, and many of them made a noticeable impression on me.  However, one of them highlights a recent realization I had regarding a new phase in my life:  I really don't like to be rushed.  Mother Teresa said:
“Everybody seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater development and greater riches and so on. There is much suffering because there is very little love in homes and in family life. We have no time for our children, we have no time for each other, there is no time to enjoy each other. In the home begins the disruption of the peace of the world.”

My family recently moved to a bigger city, and I am feeling the effects of our surroundings.  Things are more rushed here.  Processing all of the extra sites and sounds is taking its toll on me.  I need extra time to calm my senses. 

When I have to move too quickly, I suffer and so does my family.  When internal equilibrium is lacking in my life, whether it be because of lack of sleep, poor nourishment, too much busy-ness, spiritual dryness, or a hurried pace, there is not peace in our household.  Scarcity of peace in our family does not add peace to our community or to the world.

Avoiding a rushed life is about more than just making a better life for myself.  Doing so helps my husband and my two young boys.  It also helps everyone we interact with.

Peace truly does begin with oneself.

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Like a Ping Pong Ball

Some days, it seems as though it would be an enormous waste of time.

Other days, I feel my fingers would not be able to move quickly enough.

My mind is made up to abandon it, and then I become inspired.  Sometimes I feel that I need to get it all out.  Back and forth I go.

Over the summer, I heard that the modern blog is going to die in the near future.  That did discourage me from attempting to revive this outlet of mine.

But, now that summer is over, and a plethora of overcast days are awaiting me, I am suddenly more motivated to put my thoughts down on the electronic page.

With my history of few and far between posts, I wonder if I really have the stamina to continue on more consistently.

What is the point of keeping a blog, anyway?

Does a blog make an impact even if no one reads it?

Yes.  Yes, I think it does.

How does blogging impact you?  How do you find yourself affected by the blogs you follow?