Thursday, September 27, 2012

Winter Prep.

Last year was one of those painful years that despite having three boys, nothing matched up, and I ended up needing to buy winter gear for all three children. Ouch!

After several winter coats went through three boys, and being of questionable quality to begin with, two of them were ready to be tossed. I had winter coats in two different sizes graciously loaned to me, but were needed back again. And I was so dissatisfied with our mittens and boot quality that I was willing to make a decent investment in something that worked.

Lands End got us all covered, no pun intended. Last year two boys needed coats, two needed boots, and everyone needed mittens that wouldn't tear, that the thumbs wouldn't get lost in, and that would keep out of their wrists.

This year I'm getting by with one each (in different sizes for different kids) a pair of mittens, boots, and, and snowpants. I just ordered today. It might seem early to some, but in MN, if you wait until the snow actually falls, good luck finding something decent for your kids to wear. Your child will end up wearing a Sponge Bob coat all winter!

FYI: If you shop at Land' End, right now there is a 30% off promotion AND free shipping!!!!

And a question for the veterans out there. I have two perfectly good pair of boots that are perfectly a full size too big for the feet I want to put in them. Am I cruel? Do I REALLY need exact sizes for boots? What would you do???

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Guiding Star Project.

The Guiding Star Project is a beautiful organization that seeks to be truly pro-woman. They are striving to provide centers across the country that provide resources for women in all facets of life--pregnancy, unplanned pregnancy, infertility, birthing, breastfeeding, parenting, and material support.

Today is my first contribution as a blogger for the Guiding Star Project. New Feminism is an incredible movement. I'm proud to be involved as an authentic woman, embracing the beauty of how we are made!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Speaking of...

In reference to the post below, today for Science we did a review of our habitat and life stages. At the end of the review was a question. "What do you want to be when you become an adult?"

Answer? A Ninja Priest.

I think I've done my job for the day ;-) .

What We've Learned.

Last week we closed on six weeks of schooling at home. It has gone well. Better, in fact, that I expected. After all, there have been moments when I've thought,
 "Oh my goodness, I have a fearless toddler, a three year demanding of my constant affection, and I'm supposed to educate my kindergartener while managing the children, meals and home? And then, to top it all off, I'm pregnant, too? And Mallory, let's remember how you are when you're pregnant? Not really the big ball of motivation that you usually are. A big ball, maybe, but a rather haggard one."

Still, it somehow works. We're rather rigorous, too. Even so, we tend to wind things down after lunch time, the toddler's heavy diapers don't get neglected, and the preschooler even has a special time for stories. I don't know how it all works, but we've been given the grace to get by.

There is no point, however, in me trying to paint a picture without challenges, because we have challenges daily, almost hourly. I get frustrated, lack patience, and sometimes want an extra set of able hands and eyes to help our days run more smoothly. Sometimes I feel like if I don't get out right this minute I might scream. I love my life, I've been given great blessings, but I function a lot better telling myself that every mother of young ones is one glass tipped over shy of losing it.

Last week was a mix of challenges. Luke fell sick on Sunday. He was so sick, in fact, that he spent the entire day sleeping in our bed with a fever. While his fever broke that night, he was weak and slower functioning for the rest of the week. Everything I had set to accomplish for the week just was not happening. I tried to get him focused enough for one math or reading lesson, or even coloring a story from the Bible. But nothing worked, and for the better part of the week I was snippy and anxious, with my well-laid plans being a muddled mess of pen in my notebook.

Still, even if lessons for the last week were pushed back, I learned a valuable lesson: When it's not working, it's not working. Why fight and push to get something accomplished when the results come with tears or a bad attitude? How much more you can get accomplished when a kid is well-rested, hydrated, and feeling back to himself, so why fight getting one extra lesson done?

Isn't this a huge reason to homeschool? To accelerate when it's appropriate, and then to back off when needed? So, why am I pushing my son, who is in good academic shape anyway, to keep learning, when he really just needed a full week to veg on the couch? What's the point in crossing lesson 22 off my list, when I know in my heart that it was done half-heartily and not comprehended. Am I doing my kids any favors by rushing through something just to get it done? Even if they don't understand it because they've been sick?

Sure enough, this Monday came with great efficiency. After a week of recuperation and weekend full of play time, my kindergartner was up for the challenges I had in store. Expectations were met, we were done early, and I even checked off every last thing on our agenda. We're back in action, feeling good, and back on the right track.

Lesson learned.

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Love Story.

I want to write a little post about adoption. A friend did recently, and having had it on my mind lately, I wanted to spread the word myself.

There are few things in life that I feel are as selfless and loving as adoption. I am under thirty, and already have three different friends under thirty who have adopted. It's beyond beautiful. I am closely acquainted with several couples, who, while a few years older than me, have adopted, and now are praying for a second adoption.

Last year I met a woman who adopted, with her husband, a daughter with Down Syndrome from China. This year, a couple from college will bring home their son from Eastern Europe, living with Down Syndrome in an orphanage. Another couple from college brought their daughter home this year from South Korea. And other friends have adopted through the foster care system, and open adoptions. We know couples still waiting for their son or daughter to be born and brought to their home, or for the legal system to finalize the bonds already made.

To call these couples heroic is an understatement. They were called to love, were open to that call, and have proceeded fearlessly with the trust they would be carried through their trials. From what they share, the blessings are far beyond any burden.

I want to share the websites that have been brought to my attention through my friends who are closely associated with their missions.

The first is Reece's Rainbow, a ministry dedicated to spreading the word about orphans with disabilities in other countries. Many of these countries are post-communist, with the after-effects being that the birth parents of these children believe that the orphanages and institutions are better equipped to raise children with disabilities. Many of these children are left in cribs day in and day out, and if not adopted by age 5, are sent to live in adult institutions.

China is harsh place for children who don't fit the "ideal." Girls are given up for simply being born female, and the pressure to have the perfect child with a one-child limit means there are many children who are left at the mercy of missionaries. The Little Flower Project is a beautiful ministry in China, run by Americans (from my alma mater...!). You can find them on Facebook, and their blog is fantastic; the pictures they post daily, and the care and love they show these infants is nothing short of a miracle. Sometimes these babies are given up just for being born small! It is a wonder to see their transformations!

 As is often said, a family cannot bring them home unless they know their child is waiting. Getting the word out is important. Spread the word, do what you can, and be passionate for the love of children. After all, women, whether mothers or not, are given the great gift of being instinctively maternal, a gift from our Creator. We were made to love, to give our whole hearts to another.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Forgive me for being a bit bold here, but it seems that every day a different freedom is being stripped away in America. I am not a protester, argumentative, and while convicted personally, am not one to bring up controversy for the sake of debate (for that, you'll need my husband, who is courageous). No, I'd rather see the world through rose-colored glasses, living in the rural splendor of the natural outdoors, raising boys to be gentleman warriors.

But, seriously, even though I'm not a doomsday paranoid, or wrapped in conspiracy theory, I am still gravely concerned.

First, there is the looming HHS mandate, which requires employers to provide, without cost, prescription drugs that cause abortion. Religious or conscientious objections are not allowed; you must comply or be financially destroyed. It's not even a Catholic issue anymore, see the link. Regardless of why you are against killing babies, regardless of the fact that human life begins at conception, it doesn't matter. You must pay for abortion.

The second is related to religious freedom. Franciscan University of Steubenville, an Catholic university, is being investigated for its handling of homosexuality in course work. I  honestly cannot find the words to express my feelings on this issue. As an alumni of the school, and someone who knows other students and alumni who identify themselves as homosexual, the quote on Church teaching stands true at the school, which is "Franciscan University follows Catholic Church teaching in regard to homosexuality and treats homosexual persons with 'respect, compassion, and sensitivity (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No 2358) while holding homosexual acts as 'intrinsically disordered.' "

The above means what it says--FUS practices what it preaches, but will not back down on the beliefs that make the university what it is. Now, simply for being a Catholic school educating students with Catholic teaching, they are under attack. Seriously, the church Mark and I attended while he was in law school was protested by the Westboro Baptist Church, if that says anything about the Catholic Church! We are part of a compassionate congregation, but does that mean that the Church cannot take a moral stance on actions???

I am baffled. Everything I have been taught to believe about freedom in America is coming into question. I am now waiting for the next bomb to be dropped, and wondering what the government will begin to require of me in the raising and educating of my children, or the practicing of my faith.

Finally, at the 2008 DNC, the words "abortion should be safe, legal, and rare" was taken out of the platform of the DFL. It was not reinstated in 2012. In doing so, it begs the question of the DFL if they then believe abortion should be dangerous and frequent. The platform changes at the DNC were such a monstrosity that, while I previously hadn't associated myself with finality to any political party, and instead voted based on each individual candidate, I am so appalled and disgusted with the direction it has taken, that at this point, I will not even consider a candidate from the DFL. I'm keeping a safe distance from any association.

Civil disobedience? Maybe we're not too far. We will not comply.
Viva la Revolucion!

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Sacrilege!

My almost 17 month old is a terror on two feet. Pay no mind to that delightful smile, his mischievous antics are as powerful as his sweet smile. We love him--no, adore him really, and despite his youth, knows he is the delight of his parents and brothers.

Still, he gets into an awful amount of trouble.

Today, while I was buttering toast and trying to keep my knife within view while slicing apples, Michael decided it was the perfect time to test his boundaries. Into the bathroom he went. Within a split second, the toilet seat went up, his hands dipped in, and before I could screech to my horror, he made the complete Sign of the Cross with his fingers, wet from the toilet water.

No, child, I am afraid to tell you that not all water is Holy Water. Excuse me while I google the symptoms for dysentery.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Dignity vs, Manners

I listen occasionally to the Catholic radio show More2Life, hosted by Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak. They answer family and relationship questions based on the Theology of the Body. I'm often surprised by the advice they give. Dr. Greg's advice stresses self-respect and boundaries. And while we often view behaving as Christians as allowing ourselves to be walked over, Dr. Greg and Lisa insist that this isn't what we were made for.

Not long ago I was thinking about an instance that I was feeling guilty about. I was worried that I had been rude in a passive way, and questioned if I had failed in my duty as a Christian through the interaction.

I ran into someone awhile ago, who, while I never knew him well, was closely related to someone who many, many years ago had been a friend of mine. That friendship didn't fizzle out, but ended harshly, with me on the receiving end of the limitless bounds of girl meanness. Years passed, I made real friendships, and moved on.

While catching up with this acquaintance, I was able to share about our life. He shared about what he had been up to, and what his future held. It was a pleasant conversation. However, I was consciously aware that the only association I had with him was this friend from so long ago, and I purposely didn't ask about her, and he never brought her up.

Days later I was still wondering, "Was that rude? Am I unkind?" Normally, for me, I enjoy conversation, and in another circumstance would have asked about the friends and family of whom I talking to. Thus the guilt.

That brings me back to the Popcak's. While I can't speak for them, I think I could predict what they would say. That is, of course it is my duty to be forgiving and kind. I hold no grudges, and would certainly be polite and friendly even if I did personally bump into this person, but I have a feeling that Popcak's would have told me that having respect for myself was just important, so as not to give the impression that I am the kind of person that can be walked all over without any consequences. I think they would have told me that I had no obligation to ask about well-being of someone who scorned me without any reconciliation.

For a lot of women, it is easier to "just be nice." To avoid confrontation at a risk of exposing your true feelings is oftentimes the more peaceful road. Rationally, sticking up for yourself isn't worth the emotional toll of making known your dissatisfaction. However, this logic isn't any more Christian than charitably sticking up for oneself, and reminding others of your shared dignity.

It's often not easy to stick up for your beliefs, and in turn, yourself. All of us "nice girls" need a reminder every once in a while, that we are are worth it, that we were bought with a price, and are due our respect and dignity, even if we demand it in gentler ways.

Have a happy weekend everyone!