7 Quick Takes

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Linking up with the lovely Kelly for some #7QT fun!

1. We bought a house! Yay! We move in June and could NOT be more excited.

2. The house has a lot of oak woodwork. Like, a ridiculous amount. Please, look at that amount of woodwork.IS1jje7bj6h0f50000000000On no planet will I be found painting said woodwork white, even though Pinterest tells me that NO ONE lives in a house with non-white woodwork. Instead I’ll be trying to make at least one room look presentable enough to post a single post to Pinterest to encourage others that you can keep your woodwork and still have a house that doesn’t look like it’s stuck in the early 90’s.

3. Don’t hold your breath while waiting for the decorating post mentioned above – I’ve never painted a room, and the only furniture I’ve ever purchased is a coffee table that I bought from Salvation army and left in its original, and very imperfect state. Don’t worry though – I have had the table for 3 years and have about 78 different articles pinned for how I can change it into something FABULOUS. So the odds that I’ll be able to turn our oak-ridden house into something Pinterest worthy with no examples is exactly….0.

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The weather here has been gorgeous and since Kateri prefers to do one 3 hour nap in the morning and no naps in the afternoon we’ve been spending a LOT of time at local parks. It’s been SO much fun and I already have more color this year than I did all of last year. Rock on weather.

5. Our little lady has figured out how to climb stairs, sit down, go down the slide, and get off of the slide all on her own. This makes afternoons at the park make mama’s back hurt a *little* bit less.

6. Eva and I are finally getting ready to book plane tickets to Edel! SO excited!

7. We have an awesome friend who is a Jesuit, and who writes for the Jesuit Post. Dan just published an excellent article on the Cristo Rey model of schools (schools that partner with businesses to help kids work one day a week and pay for their tuition). Check him (and the Jesuit Post) out for some great reflections!

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The Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge

2015-Reading-Challenge

I’m a little late to the party, but I’m joining Anne in her 2015 reading challenge.  As background, you should know that I tend towards crime thrillers and science fiction, with a few dashes of historical fiction and anything labeled a “classic.” I am not a fan of chick-lit or anything sad. Here’s what I’m planning to read in each category!

A book I’ve been meaning to read: The Narnia Series by C.S. Lewis

I have tried SO many times to read the Chronicles and every time I give up. I think I just need to get over the hump and tough it out – how can I not like a young adult science fiction set of stories with Christian themes?!? I got this on Audible and I’m hoping to listen to it during some of the many “windshield hours” I’ve been logging. I’m not really into audio books so we’ll see if this lasts. (and if I renew my 30 day trial to Audible!)

Update: Listening to this on Audible was a GREAT idea. The version I got was slightly dramatized and I LOVED it. I’m glad I can finally claim to have read the whole series and this will definitely be read aloud to Kateri when she’s older.

A book published this year: I’m leaving this category open until something new piques my interest at the library!

A book in a genre I don’t typically read: The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self Control by Walter Mischel

I’m excited to read this one and maybe pick up some tips for teaching self control to Kateri. It’s such a hugely important skill to have but something so hard to teach.

Update: This was super dry and I just couldn’t get through it. It is VERY rare that I stop reading a book, but this one just repeated too much information too often. Just couldn’t do it!

A book from my childhood: The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet by Eleanor Cameron

I remember being very small and having my aunt and godmother say this was HER favorite book from HER childhood. It quickly became my favorite, but I couldn’t tell you any of the plot right now. We’ll see how it holds up to an adult reading…

A book my mom loves: Carry On, Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life by Glennon Doyle Melton 

My mom recommended this book to me and since it’s written by a Mom blogger, I feel there’s very little chance I won’t like it!

A book that was originally written in a different language: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

My brother-in-law and sister-in-law bought me a copy of this when we were at Powell’s in Portland and I’m excited to get a start on it. This is another one that everyone seems to have read. My husband was excited for me to read it but when I asked him what it was about he said “I don’t know – I read it in French.” Seems like a good recommendation to read it in my first language.

A book “everyone” has read but me: In this House of Brede by Rumor Godden

Based on Haley and Christy’s recommendations, I’m going to try Brede. It seems like a TON of people commented that they love this book, so I’m hoping I do too!

A book I chose because of the cover: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

This one is almost a cheat because I saw it on MMD’s Pinterest board for this challenge and it seemed super popular. It does have a super stunning cover though, so I’m going to call it fair to put in this category.

A book by a favorite author: Outlander books 5-8 by Diana Gabaldon

I’m not sure if I’d list Diana Gabaldon as a “favorite author” but I do LOVE the Outlander series (although some of the racier parts I skip over) and I’ve been taking a little break from them trying to read some different things. I’m excited to get back to some Jamie & Claire.

A book recommended by someone with great taste: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

She doesn’t know she “recommended” this because I stole it from her Goodreads, but if Kate likes something, there’s a high chance I will too!

A book I should have read in high school: East of Eden by John Steinbeck

I think my high school English lists were lacking in more ways than one, so it wasn’t hard to choose something in this category. My degree in college was based on the Great Books but we only covered up to about 1950 so my modern classics gap is pretty big. Who better to start with than Steinbeck?

A book that’s currently on the best seller list: All the Light You Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

My mom bought this for my sister for Christmas so I’m excited to be able to borrow it. It’s popularity makes it SO hard to get a copy at the library!

Update: At first I couldn’t understand what the fuss was about – it took me a while to get really sucked into the story. About a quarter of the way in I started to get more interested and by the end I couldn’t put it down. I love the unique way the story was told and how the two stories are woven together moving back and forth through time. I understand why it’s a bestseller!

Home

Many a mom blogger shared this article recently about how Catholic Mom blogs are awesome and a beautiful way to participate in the New Evangelization.

The single most striking part of this article to me was this quote from Robert Farror Capon:

To be a Mother is to be the sacrament—the effective symbol—of place. Mothers do not make homes, they are our home: in the simple sense that we begin our days by long sojourn within the body of a woman; in the extended sense that she remains our center of gravity through the years. She is the very diagram of belonging, the where in whose vicinity we are fed and watered. She is geography incarnate, with her breasts and her womb, her relative immobility, and her hands reaching up to us the fruitfulness of the earth.

How amazing is this idea? We, as mothers are not simply homemakers we are simply home.

Suddenly I understood on a deeper level why Kateri only wanted to lay on my chest in the depths of sickness. I understood why when she falls down she wants me to pick her up. I understood why when she’s afraid, she prefers my arms to anyone else’s. I am her home. It doesn’t matter where we are, as long as we’re together.

I don't think I'll ever grow tired of being home to this little one.

I don’t think I’ll ever grow tired of being home to this little one.

My husband and I are closing on our first house in June. We are very, very excited, but this quote is giving me pause. It may be true that our mothers are our first home, but as we grow, we necessarily shift this feeling of safety. The key is that our first home is a person, and it is a mistake  if we think that we can transfer this sentiment to a physical building. Our first home is a person, and our home must continue to be based on relationships.

Instead of focusing on creating a home in the new house that we are purchasing, we will focus on being a home – the three of us within our family and the family that extends out from us. Our goal is to make our house a comfortable place, for it will only be a home when the people we love are gathered there.

#5Favs Guilty Pleasures

Linking up with Jenna for #5Favs! Here are 5 things I just can’t quit…but probably should.

Image via Chick-Fil-A

1. The iced coffee at Chick-Fil-A Oh my goodness. This stuff is amazing. I love when it comes  not quite all the way mixed up with all the syrupy goodness settled to the bottom. It makes me want to just ask for the syrup by the spoonful. It tastes to me like there’s a mocha flavor to the Original, even though they claim there isn’t. I never ever ever put sugar in my coffee any other time- because it just can’t compare to how delicious this is and it’s not worth trying.

Image via Amazon

2. Any and all detective/psychological thrillers I am such a sucker for these. It doesn’t matter how terribly written – I will read it. If it happens to be a series, I will read every.single.one as quickly as possible. Hit me with your suggestions – I challenge you to find something I haven’t read!

Image via White Plum

3. White Plum tunics I was firmly in the “leggings are not pants” camp – until I got pregnant and understood the sweet, sweet, relief that is elastic waist bands and forgiving tops. While I still have a very strict no-see-through leggings and cover-the-butt combo rule, my favorite outfits are tunics from White Plum and fleece lined leggings. So comfy, half stylish? If I’m wrong, I don’t want to be right.

Image via Absolut

4. Absolut Grapevine  Oooh mamacita. When it’s too late in the day for Chick-Fil-A iced coffee or the little one really gives me  a rough day, a little bit of this mixed with some Fresca let’s me imagine I’m somewhere warm and far, far away.

Image via Culver’s

5. Culver’s concrete mixers  First of all, they use custard. Custard made in the restaurant. Second, the custard to add-in ratio is out of control – especially if you get it made with their Flavor of the Day. I’m a weirdo and will only eat ice cream if it has some sort of add-in in every bite. If there aren’t enough Reese’s/Oreos/other chocolatey goodness for all the ice cream, John gets the rest. He thinks it’s a sweet deal.

Finding God in the Waiting

Lately God has been calling me to do a lot of waiting. My husband and I have spent some time in the last year intentionally discerning a few things for our family, and truly believe we are hearing God call us to some things. What we didn’t count on was WHEN God would call us to those things.

We took time and discerned that we were being called to move to a certain community, buy a home, and put down roots. We found loads of homes in our price range that we liked when the timing wasn’t right, and now that (we think) the timing is right, there’s nothing on the market. Literally. There are 0 homes in our price range.

I would guess that there are so few houses on the market because everyone feels the way she does about the weather.

I would guess that there are so few houses on the market because everyone feels the way she does about the weather.

My patience has been running short. After more than 2 months of waiting for new homes to come on the market, I told my husband I was pretty sure we should look at a house that’s 350 square feet smaller than our current (small) apartment. He calmly told me that we had discerned that we were looking for a home because the extra space would be conducive to some future plans we have. Moving in to a smaller space defeated the purpose we had discerned for buying a new home, and told me I needed to pray for more patience. He was right. I still thought we should check out the house – you know, just in case.

God has used housing to teach me patience in the past, and by now I expect he’s surprised I haven’t learned my lesson. When we were a newly married couple, we lived in a great apartment right in the heart of our city. We paid way too much for rent, with the intention of living there for only one year – hopefully the only 9 months of our marriage when we were two and not three. When we began to hunt for something more practical for a family, we were striking out big time.

I went to my women’s bible study and asked the women to pray that we might find a space that was the size we were hoping for in our price range. The woman sitting next to me turned to me and said, “I think I have an idea.” Her and her husband were moving to Japan for a new military posting, and needed to rent their condo. They just wanted to cover the mortgage and needed someone they could trust to take care of the place with no landlord supervision. Needless to say, we signed up right away.

I can’t help but think that this season of waiting in my own life matches up perfectly to the liturgical season of Lent. As my husband and I wait for the new changes life will bring us, and work to trust God’s plan, the Church waits for Easter. We trust that Easter will come – bringing with it the hope and joy of the resurrection (and here in Wisconsin, hopefully some temperatures above freezing.)

Yesterday at mass, for the first time in my life, I was struck by the words of the Preface to the Eucharistic Prayer.

For you have given your children a sacred time
for the renewing and purifying of their hearts,
that, freed from disordered affections,
they may so deal with the things of this passing world
as to hold rather to the things that eternally endure .

It reminded me that in asking us to wait for Easter, to carefully prepare and practice self-control, we learn to value what is important. The same lesson can be learned whether we’re waiting for Easter or waiting to find our new home. God is there in the waiting, teaching us to hold tight to Him.  To hold tight to Him, we have to let go of everything else.

So during this season of Lent, we’ll keep praying to ensure we’ve correctly discerned the what, praying for patience to accept God’s when, and (until my patience grows) checking Zillow 10 times a day.

Hopefully the warmer weather will encourage some folks to get their butts into motion and list their homes. It sure has encouraged this little lamb to get moving!

Hopefully the warmer weather will encourage some folks to get their butts into motion and list their homes. It sure has encouraged this little lamb to get moving!

I agree with Catholic Doors – the Preface to the Eucharistic Prayer is a super underutilized resource for Catholics. I’ll be listening more closely to this piece of the mass in the future!

The Unseen Sacrifices

Travel. Prestige. Money. Lots of money. My first job out of college had it all. For three years I worked at an elite software company and had the opportunity to travel around the country working with executives from top healthcare organizations. I traveled about 75% of the time – many times to exotic locales such as Peoria, IL. (Travel always sounds exciting until you’re bouncing between Indianapolis and Peoria in the middle of January.)

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Shortly after I got married, however, I realized that being away from my husband 75% of the time was making it very difficult to actually, you know, build a marriage.

I decided to look for a new opportunity, and was lucky to find one quickly. The day before I was to put in my notice, my boss pulled me aside and told  me I was receiving a raise. This raise added another zero on to my salary. This raise pushed me into a yearly income that I had only ever dreamed about, and caused me to pause and think about what the heck I was doing.

The new job I had accepted represented a 70% pay cut.  It did not have the prestige, the travel, or the perks of my old position. It would require financial sacrifices, and sacrifices in the type of freedom to which I had grown accustomed. It would, however, allow me to build a life with my husband and to be a better wife.

Having a marriage that's this much fun? Worth all the money in the world.

Having a marriage that’s this much fun? Worth all the money in the world.

I left behind the money and took the new job. As I settled in to my new life, I worried about the financial security that I had sacrificed. I quickly realized, however, that in working at that job, at the company, I had already been  sacrificing.

I had sacrificed my body and my health as I suffered from the havoc caused by constant travel.

I had sacrificed relationships with those in my community, because I wasn’t around enough to truly offer others my friendship.

I sacrificed my mental health because I could never shut off the worries and stress caused by my position.

The life that I live now, the one I think that God is calling me to lead, still causes me to sacrifice daily.

I sacrifice new clothes and travel for the ability to stay home with my daughter.

I sacrificed my body to bring new life into the world.

I sacrifice the “security” of a big paycheck for the opportunity to learn trust in God’s ability to provide.

The difference between the sacrifices in the life I wanted to lead and the life God wanted me to lead was joy. God’s plan doesn’t always make me happy, content, healthy, or well rested, but following his plan always brings me a sense of true peace and joy.

What sacrifices am I already making because of my inability to give my fiat to God? My new prayer is simply to ask for the faith it takes to jump into God’s plan, because I know He always ensures that the sacrifices are worth it.

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She required us to hold her like this constantly for the first 3 months of her life. Another worthy sacrifice.

This post is a link-up with Blessed Is She. 

Perfectly Tara

I have ideas for many projects, but rarely start any. I let them grow and flourish in my mind, but can’t seem to bring them forth into reality.

It would be fruitful to start a prayer journal, but I can’t find just the right one.

I would love to learn to sew, but I need to pick just the right project.

I’d like to start a blog and connect with others, but I need just the right name.

I’m paralyzed by the idea that if I can’t do something perfectly, I shouldn’t do it at all.

As a new(ish) Mom, I need to learn to embrace imperfection. My house will not always be clean, but it’s worth making it a home. My days will never go as planned, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not worthwhile. I need to be accepting of imperfection in other, and in myself.

I know that God doesn’t call me to perfection. I know that He created me in an intentional way. He put me in a specific place, at a specific time, with specific people for a specific reason. I know these things, but I need to learn how to live them.

So this is me, learning to embrace my imperfections, and start saying yes to God’s plan for me: not to be perfect, but to be perfectly Tara.

P.S. After staring at this blog post for a week and fretting about the wording, the title, and the formatting, I finally published. I have a very, very long way to go.