Category Archives: Motherhood and Family Life


“Stayin Alive” A Soundtrack for the Late Work Nights

. . . or in my case, the husband’s late work nights.  Nathan expects to have put in sixteen hours at work today.

Sammy decided to celebrate this by making it his mission to dump out anything he could get his hands on in the kitchen while he was “helping” me make dinner.  Among other things, throughout the course of our meal prep he dumped out the container of popcorn kernels, the box of tea bags, the large shaker of garlic powder and for his grand finale, half a gallon of kefir water . . . all over his sister’s head.  Each time I was within a few feet of him.  This kid is talented.  In addition while cleaning up one of his messes, he decided to, in his words “practice potty training” in the kitchen . . . yeah.

In an effort to distract him and maintain my sanity I created the following playlist.  There was much dancing and singing, and less dumping out of foodstuffs.  We’re calling it a win.

For your listening pleasure I present my late work night desperation playlist:

1.  Eye of the Tiger- Survivor

Because its awesome.

2.  Livin on a Prayer- Bon Jovi

We were totally “livin on a prayer” tonight, begging God for the grace to keep my cool.  Also Ana looked at me in awe as I belted out this song.  Sammy looked at me like I was insane.

3.  I will Survive- Gloria Gaynor

So hypothetically, my young little college freshman self ran around in circles belting out this song during my first finals week hyped up on waaaaay too much sugar and caffeine.  That is only hypothetically mind you.

4.  Stayin’ Alive- Bee Gees

The title says it all.

5.  I Need a Hero- Bonnie Tyler

Fortunately I found my hero in my husband.  I don’t know how he finds the strength to work these insane hours for our family.

6. The Final Countdown- Europe

With any luck we are in the home stretch now . . .

7.  We Are the Champions- Queen

Because “Weeee’ll keep on fighting till the end . . .”

Quick disclaimer: I did not watch every second of the footage in the videos.  From what I skimmed I didn’t see anything terribly inappropriate, other than lots of men impersonating women with long hair and very skinny jeans.

Linking up with Jen at Conversion Diary for her Seven Quick Takes linkup.

Do you have a playlist that helps you get through the crazy long days?  Are any of your favorites on this list?

Houseiversary Lessons Learned

Our Two Year “Housiversary”: Lessons Learned

First off I want to apologize for how quiet things have been around here.  We have had colds, allergies and general feelings of “blahs” going around.  Also I have been hard at work on a special project that I look forward to sharing with you (not the laundry room remodel, progress has temporarily stalled on that front).  Hopefully we will be back to our “not so regularly scheduled programming” sometime next week.  Thanks!

Houseiversary Lessons Learned

Two years ago this week my husband and I processed down main street, baby in tow (er, in arm) and bought a house.  We didn’t know much about home ownership (we still don’t), and while crazy exciting, the prospect of “breaking” the house was more than a little intimidating.  Along the way we have learned a few valuable lessons and I am sure that we will learn many more.

Because the house was a sixty year old short sale it wasn’t in ideal condition.  The previous owner had two dogs, three cats, twelve rabbits and one snake; she wasn’t particularly scrupulous about how this affected the cleanliness of the house.

Fortunately we had lots of awesome friends who very generously helped us get the house in a more clean state, over 100 man power hours later it was move-in ready.  Lesson Learned: We have awesome friends.  

I still think of my friend Rebecca who cleaned out my pantry (we joked that it looked like a dead cat had exploded in it), Sarah who helped me clean out my cabinets (apparently the previous owner also had some non-domesticated rodent “pets”), and Mary who helped me paint over the pornographic graffiti in what is now my son’s room.  I promise we are actually in a decent neighborhood, the house was just really neglected.

In the month after moving, our house rebelled.  One light fixture shot out sparks, the garbage disposal switch shocked my mom. the heating system sounded like a dying dinosaur, and the sewer lines backed up into our house . . .twice.

That month we spent the equivalent of a mortgage payment in repairs.  Lesson Learned: emergency savings accounts are awesome and save additional stress when you are already overwhelmed.  

While we are on the subject of money, I find it hilarious to think that I thought that I would have the entire house fixed up the way I wanted, within two-three months for less than $2K.  Cue big belly laugh here.  Now two years later we are slowly, but surely catching up on all the deferred maintenance and addressing repairs, but aesthetic updates are quite incomplete.

When we moved in I wanted to repaint EVERYTHING; I figured it would only take a week or two.  Cue another big belly laugh.  Within a month of moving in I became pregnant with our daughter and promptly passed out on the couch for the next few months from pregnancy exhaustion.   Most of the rooms in the house still have not been painted yet.

This used to bother me to no end, as if the unpainted walls were mocking me.  Now I see it a bit differently.  The walls are not mocking me, they serve as a reminder that I have higher priorities that take precedence, such as my husband and children.

This house is to serve to foster relationships, to be a refuge for my family and a place of hospitality for friends.  Lesson Learned: To the extent that decorating aids in the aforementioned goals it is a good thing, to the extent that it detracts from them, it ceases to be good.  

On that related topic, the past two years have shown that DIY projects aren’t our strong suit.  As I previously mentioned, we start them at a tortoise’s pace.  My husband, for some reason,  doesn’t derive the same delight as I do from decorating.  For him, painting walls and hanging curtains is an act of love and sacrifice.  One year he even worked it into his Lenten penances.

Now I have come to understand that he works many long and hard hours and when he comes home he doesn’t want to work more, or be apart from me while I lock myself in a room to paint; he wants to have time as a family.

I have finally come to realize that our most precious resource is time.  Time spent working on projects is time not spent on family, writing, singing or any of the other activities we enjoy.  If there is a project that we don’t particularly like, perhaps our time would be better spent on other pursuits.

I am finally realizing that it isn’t wrong to hire out work that we could do ourselves.  That this allows us to play to our strengths.  Lesson learned: Before attempting a project take time and energy into account as valuable resources, instead of just money.  

Finally, this house is teaching me the importance of embracing the beauty of everyday life in all its mess and chaos.  Who would want to live in a perfect house any way, a house where there are no toys strewn on the floor, or sewing projects underway, or sheets of music that somehow always seem to escape their neat binders?  Not I.  Our house is full of life, and life isn’t always neat and tidy.

Our house is a place of growth, fellowship and love.  A place where friends (and sometimes strangers) are welcome, even if the dishes aren’t done.

I strive to create beauty and order in my home, not to attain some pristinely clean, impeccably decorated home, perfect in its sterility.  I strive to make it a haven for my family and friends, a place of joy and rest.  Lesson Learned: A perfect house isn’t my goal, a happy family is.  


Has your home taught you any important life lessons?  Do you enjoy decorating or look at it as just another chore?  I would love to hear about it in the comments.  

Letter to Ana 3.0

Dear Anastasia: A Letter to My Daughter on 50 Shades of Grey

Letter to Ana 3.0
I have a custom of writing letters to my children when they are young.  This letter is one such example.  In general, these letters are very personal and a gift that is only shared with the recipient.  Due to the alarming popularity of the “50 Shades of Grey” book and upcoming movie, I decided to make an exception in the case of this letter.  Please note that I have not read the book, nor do I ever intend to.  My understanding of it is derived from a fairly brief summary, and that degree of detail has proved more than sufficient for me.  I would rather remain ignorant of all the sordid details.  

My Dearest Anastasia,

Hello, my daughter.  Right now you are just a baby sleeping on your father’s lap, totally at peace in his arms.  Someday, though, you might be in another man’s arms and I wanted to pass on a few suggestions for how to find someone worthy of that honor.

You see, there is a book that is quite popular right now.  I won’t bother to name it since I am sure that by the time you read this it will have long been forgotten.  This book tells the story of a young woman’s sexual relationship with a sadistic man.  Normally, I don’t give such filth a second thought, but while reading a critique of the book, I learned the young woman’s name: Anastasia.

Then the book changed.  Instead of seeing it as just another smutty story, it became personal.  It began to represent a future that I hope you will never have to experience.  It led me to think of some things to suggest for you to avoid in future relationships, as well as qualities to look for in a potential husband.

First, if a man tries to control you or coerce you into being the perfect partner for him, run away from that relationship and don’t look back.  Love isn’t about controlling another person in order to maximize your own satisfaction.  It is about giving generously of yourself, and in so doing becoming who you were meant to be.  Love doesn’t force another person to conform to his or her own standards of perfection, but rather provides gentle guidance in trying to become more like Christ.

Another thing to beware of is a man who refers to virginity (either his or yours) as something to be taken or lost.  Virginity is a gift of oneself to another.  If any man talks of taking it or asks you to “lose” it to him, he does not understand the value of the gift you have to offer and is not properly disposed to receive it.

From what I understand in the aforementioned book, the main male character requires Anastasia to sign a non-disclosure agreement so that his various sexual exploits will be kept confidential.  I presume he thinks that this will provide him with the means to engage in a more “liberating” sexual encounter.

It should come as no surprise to you that your father and I have entered into a formal agreement of a sexual nature.  Ours goes something like this: “I take you to be my lawfully wedded spouse, for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part.”  It is only in this type of an agreement that one can experience the true freedom that comes from giving oneself to another completely and unreservedly for life.

The reason that the male character desires Anastasia to sign the non-disclosure agreement is because he is a sadist.  He derives pleasure from causing her pain.  My daughter, I hope and pray that you will never find yourself in a relationship with such a man.  No matter how convincingly he may profess to love you, it is a lie.

Love never finds pleasure from inflicting harm on the beloved.  There can be no true union of persons when one is using the other as an object to satisfy their lust.

Some proponents of such a lifestyle argue that the pleasure doesn’t come from the inflicting of pain, but from the trust that the victim places in the aggressor not to permanently injure or kill them.  At this point words fail me.  Hoping that the man who is abusing you for his own pleasure won’t kill you hardly seems like trust to me.  Rather, true trust is pledging your life and your heart to another, come what may.

Finally, my daughter, please know that no matter what choices or mistakes you may make, I will always love you.

Nothing you can do or say could ever change my love for you.  If you ever want to talk about anything or need a safe place to run to, I will always be here for you.  Your father and I love you more than life itself, we would gladly die to save you.

As much as we love you, there is one who loves you even more.  He has already died to save you.

Should you ever fall, run back into His arms in the Sacrament of Confession.  It is there that He will hold you close to His pierced heart in the most loving of embraces.  If you ever need a model of true, selfless love, look to Him my daughter.

In Him I Remain,

Your Devoted Mother


Do you ever write letters to your children?  What are some pieces of advice that you want to impart to them on the expression of love in a relationship?  What are your thoughts on the “50 Shades of Grey” saga?  

Due to the nature of the post, I ask that all comments be kept discrete and charitable.  Comments are moderated, and I reserve the right to delete comments I deem inappropriate (haven’t had to use that right yet, thankfully).

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Sammy two months after we started supplementing.

My Breastfeeding Journey Part I: Lactation Failure

The other day I thought it might be fun to do posts on breastfeeding as part of breastfeeding awareness week, so I turned to Google to find out just when it was.  In a serendipitous turn of events, I discovered it is this week.  This post is the first of two posts on my experiences with breastfeeding my two children.  Part two will run sometime later in the month.  To my small number of male readers, you are welcome to read it, but if you prefer please feel free to skip (except for my husband, he doesn’t get off the hook so easily, ha ha).

Before the birth of my son Samuel, I anticipated a smooth breastfeeding experience.   I had read several books on the topic, and even practiced various feeding positions with stuffed animals.  There was no doubt in my mind that everything would work out fine.  After all as I had read, every woman can breastfeed if they just try hard enough . . .or so I thought.

Then my son was born, and all my preconceived notions began to crumble.  The birth process was surprisingly easy, and I fully expected breastfeeding to follow suit.  After all, this is what my body was designed to do.

My son lost 12 oz. of his birth weight in less than a week.  I tried to remain calm, telling myself that he would regain it all and then some.  Even after my milk came in, however, his wight gain was very slow, and even non-existent for several days at a time.

In frustration, I turned to my local La Leche League to find answers.  At the first meeting (and every subsequent one) I was told the problem was two fold; first, I must not have a good latch (though the leader admitted that everything looked good on the outside) and, second, I just wasn’t nursing enough.  Finally, I was told not to supplement any feedings with formula, lest my supply be further jeopardized and to pump whenever my son napped.

Over the next few weeks, I watched videos about latching on, nursed as much as possible (we were actively nursing for 16 hours a day), and pumped about twice a day.  Still my son did not gain weight.

All the while the doctors were running tests to see if my son had a genetic disorder to explain his poor weight gain.  Sammy was producing the proper number of soiled diapers, so we assumed he was getting enough milk.  I felt physically ill with worry, both that my son might have a serious underlying health problem, or that his inability to gain weight was my fault, and that failure to nurse exclusively would result in a serious health problem for him later in life.

Finally I got a referral to a different lactation consultant whose practice was an hour and a half away from my house.  Desperate for answers, I made the drive down.

Sammy at his lowest weight.  It pains me to see this picture.

Sammy at his lowest weight. It pains me to see this picture.

There I found out the news I was both dreading and hoping to hear: I had lactation failure.  It isn’t common, and is a very poorly publicized condition for fear that many women will prematurely presume they have it and stop attempting to breastfeed.  The La Leche League leader I  previously saw did not mention the possibility once, and even my doctor was not familiar with it, I was the first case he had ever seen.

The lactation consultant told me very gently that although breastfeeding is ideal, the most important thing was to make sure that my son got the nourishment he so desperately needed.  We talked about several strategies for trying to maintain my supply, and she gave me a supplemental nursing system so that I could feed my son formula while continuing to breastfeed.

Now that I knew I had done everything in my power to breastfeed exclusively, I was at peace with supplementing.  The results were dramatic.  My son began gaining weight at a rapid pace (up to a pound a week for the first few weeks).  His cheeks began to fill out and he became such a happy baby.  From what I can tell, I was able to continue to provide him with 1/3-1/2 of the milk that he needed, and we supplemented the rest.  Now, nearly three years later he is an energetic, intelligent toddler.

Sammy two months after we started supplementing.

Sammy two months after we started supplementing.

My purpose in sharing this information is twofold.  First, I want to raise awareness of the condition so that other emotional, exhausted mothers might find answers sooner than I did and be spared watching their child suffer.  Secondly, I want women who are experiencing this to know that they aren’t alone and to share a few pieces of advice:

1. Get Help.   If you are having any problems with nursing or your infant displays poor weight gain, get help right away!  See a certified lactation consultant, they can be so amazingly helpful in managing breastfeeding problems.  If I had seen one sooner, my son would have been better off.

2.  If necessary, don’t be afraid to supplement.  Breast may be best, but what your child really needs is nourishment.  I was so hung up on making sure my son got the best possible source of nutrition that I was unwilling to experiment with adding in supplemental feedings.  It wasn’t until the lactation consultant told me that it was necessary to supplement that I gave myself permission to do so without fear.

3.  Forgive yourself!  After we started supplementing, I couldn’t stop playing thoughts in my head about how I had failed my son, how I wasn’t able to provide him with this one thing that I so desperately wanted to.  It took me months to forgive myself.

As parents, we want to give our children the best, and when we are unable to do so it is devastating.  But do you know what the most precious gift you can give your child is?  Your love and affection.  Focus on all the beautiful moments you are able to share with your baby. Forgive yourself for not living up to your idea about what you “should” be able to do as a mother.  You are just the right mom for the job of parenting your child.  You are not defined by your failures, but by the fierce and devoted love you give.  That love will have a greater impact on your child’s life than breast milk ever could.

Our silly Sammy, goofing off for the camera.

Our silly Sammy, goofing off for the camera.


Have you ever breastfed?  Ever struggled with undersupply, or oversupply? Please share your experiences (both positive and negative) in the com box.  Sometimes it can be so reassuring for other women to see that others share their difficulties.  

A few disclaimers: I am not a doctor, and this is not intended to be medical advice.  If you think you might have lactation failure, see a professional immediately!  

Also, I do not mean to disparage La Leche League, I have a few friends who are leaders who helped me troubleshoot more minor problems I had later on.  For smaller breastfeeding issues or general support it is a great organization.  

If you are going through a similar situation, please feel free to get in touch with me through the contact form, I understand that it is a hard burden to bear and would be happy to offer emotional support.  

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Thriving Amidst Adversity

blacksmith_2540894In January, frustrated with the chaos I was encountering, I decided to seek to thrive in all that I did.  I set goals for various aspects of my life: relationships, health, prayer, etc. (I hope to share them with you sometime soon, to help keep me accountable to them.)  

While I have been progressing in my goals, and life is becoming more ordered and running smoother, this progress didn’t bring me as much satisfaction as I had hoped.  In my mind, thriving was still eluding me.

As I pictured it, thriving meant managing all of the duties and responsibilities of my life with perfect competence.  I figured that, if I tried hard enough, I really could have it all together. You know, a perfectly clean house, with delicious all-organic paleo meals on the table promptly at 6pm, children whose days are spent engaging in a variety of stimulating learning activities (definitely not with any television), picture perfect health, and extensive periods in the day for prayer and recollection.

While all of these things are good and desirable, it wasn’t until recently that I realized that I had missed the point.  In my naivete, I had thought that sanctity- which is what true thriving is all about- necessitated having it all together.

With relief I recalled the lives of saints who share my vocation as mother.  If I held them to the same standards that I had proposed for myself, then Sts. Monica, Gianna and Frances hadn’t really thrived.  St. Monica had difficulties in her relationship with her son and husband; St. Gianna suffered from cancer; and St. Frances was constantly interrupted at prayer by her children.

When it comes to thriving, only one thing is needful: to draw closer to our Lord through the circumstances of our daily life.  I may not be able to control the chaos and trials in my life, but I can control whether these trials bring me closer to God, or lead me further away.

Thriving doesn’t just happen when everything is going right; it happens when you are being tested in the furnace of adversity and are molded into what you are supposed to be.

Is it even possible to thrive without trials?

The challenges and chaos aren’t distractions from my goal for a life well lived; they are a means of pushing me closer to it.  It is up to me to use them wisely.  Maybe then I will experience what it looks like to thrive.

How about you?  Have you ever experienced a trial that helped you become a better person?  I would love to hear about it in the comments!