Currently, Vol. 6

Pounding this out as quick as I can, since the sun has come out for the first time in a week, and I’ve got some restless natives on my hands!

01. Celebrating: 

We found out the gender of the new baby on Saturday! And also bestowed a name upon him/her, so that Lucy’s mind can be put to rest. It was fun to bring home cake pops of the appropriate color to surprise the girls and Tom (who sadly had to stay home with them, and thus miss the gender-reveal sono for the first time). If you want to know, just shoot me an email! It’ll be mum on the blog for all the relatives who want to be surprised!

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Tom tries to decipher the gender based on the picture alone…hence the confusion…

We also had a great little Michaelmas feast last week, with a roast chicken, whiskey-glazed carrots, and a dragon cake! Followed two days later by a French-ish celebration for St. Therese (crepes with sausage, spinach, cream cheese and Rosé for the adults). Lots of great October feast days to celebrate!

02. Watching:

Arthur and George on PBS. If you don’t necessarily love mystery (ahem) but you do love literary characters in movies with a dash of mystery thrown in, this will be up your alley. It’s about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his foray into real-life detective work.

Downtown Abbey: Final Season! I can’t wait to see how they wrap up the show. Perhaps I will go back to Season 1 (the best, best, best) during the long winter/post-partum phase of life.

I’ve also been craving a complete re-watch of Harry Potter from the beginning. There’s something very autumnal about the movies, and pumpkin pasties+butterbeer whilst watching curled on the couch in blankets sounds delightful.

03. Reading:

Ida Elisabeth by Sigrid Undset. Obscure book by the famed novelist. I just started it for my book club, and already love it. That woman could write! It’s also her only novel NOT set in the medieval period (it takes place in the 1930s) which is different and interesting.

04. Wearing:

Well, apparently the hurricane for us meant that we skipped the normal fall temperatures and went straight to winter last week. We’ve been wearing long-sleeves, sweaters, slippers, fuzzy footed jammies (well, the girls) and rain coats.

Since I’m now dressing me plus the bump, I’m loving these maternity jeans from Gap (which actually came in petite! Glory! And were on super sale), some awesome leggings from my last Stitch Fix (again, actually short enough for me), and lots of tunics and ruched tees.

(We’ve also had to turn the heat on, which seems absurd for the first few days of October, but it has been chilly...)

05. Praying for:

Our little cousin Liam is undergoing radiation right now. Keep him in your prayers! The great and wonderful news that I forgot to share last month, is that his tumor is completely gone now! We are so thankful and continue to pray for him!

06. Clicking:

I was so excited to see this article and will definitely be bringing it with me to my (upcoming, not-yet-scheduled, why-is-October-so-crazy) hair appointment!

This is from last month, but is such a great article, about the difficult and trying side of practicing NFP when it involves prolonged abstinence. I’m really glad this aspect of NFP is getting some attention! Everyone who is faithfully committed to practicing NFP would love to have a little more support and less sugar-coating, I think.

I’m re-reading this article by a Jewish Rabbi, the transcript of a talk he gave last year at the marriage colloquium in Rome.

07. Planning for:

Much like September, October is shaping up to be an insanely busy month, with every weekend booked: birthday parties, a babymoon(!), dinner dates, and a wedding! We were really hoping to take the girls to a pumpkin patch and apple picking, but I’m not sure when we’ll fit that in, especially if the weather keeps up the chill and rain. Here’s hoping for sunnier fall days!

Linking up with Kelly for her Link-toberfest! Here’s the link to my very first quick takes post, from July 2013 while we were in Rome!

5 Favorite Marriage Books

It’s wedding season, and I thought I’d share some of my favorite books about marriage and love. We (or I) read most of these either before or during dating/engagement, but all of them would be just as excellent for an already married couple. In fact, I think it would be awesome to re-read some of them in the future.

Five Favorite Marriage Books

It’s no secret that both Tom and I are pretty huge nerds. The nerdiness takes different forms for both of us but one of our shared nerd passions is reading, and specifically reading aloud with each other. We actually started doing this basically right after we started dating. We spent a good chunk of time in the car, driving to and from dates, mini road trips, or just the normal (and LONG, thank you D.C. traffic) commute of Tom driving me home at night. So we made sure we always had a book going so we could put the travel time to good use.

Want to know the first book we read out loud?

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It was a really light-hearted little thing called Love and Responsibility by Karol Wojtyla. Womp, womp. I believe I was the one who suggested it, and somehow managed not to come on as a) desperate “MRS”-degree-seeker or b) over-achiever. I had already read a good chunk of it in a college course, and Tom had wanted to read it for awhile, so I guess we managed to ignore its obvious implications (I mean, we’d been dating all of 3 weeks or something when we cracked it open…) and plunged into the fascinating mind of the amazing saint who wrote it.

This book is not for the faint of reading heart, but it’s also still pretty accessible for the average reader without a doctorate in theology (and MUCH shorter than TOTB). There are some pretty ground-breaking revelations in there about what exactly it means to be in a healthy marriage relationship, and Wojtyla doesn’t mince words. He covers, among other things:  the meaning of the word “love” and its different forms, sexual shame/shamelessness, chastity– in and out of marriage, NFP/periodic abstinence, causes of female frigidity, annnnd the importance of mutual male/female climax. It is worth the read, whether you’re preparing for marriage, or just trying to find something helpful to read in light of our current marriage crisis.

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Three to Get Married, by Fulton J. Sheen

This book is a more a poetical version of Wojytla’s work, covering many of the same topics on Catholic marital teaching. Sheen has an eloquent way of describing the love between a man and a woman and children as the natural and beautiful fruit of that union. (Another great book to read if you’re disheartened by the war on traditional marriage!). We would often re-read certain paragraphs, because they were just that well-written and meaningful.

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The Four Loves, by C.S. Lewis

 

This is not a “marriage” book per se, but I think an absolute must-read if you are a human being trying to be in relationship with another human being. Tom and I both read this before we ever met but really enjoyed talking about our favorite passages from it. Lewis make sense of the complex meanings of the different types of love we all experience throughout life. There is so much food for thought here, especially in regards to the commitment to life-long that is marriage and the Ultimate Love all of our earthly loves mirror.

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A Severe Mercy, by Sheldon Van Auken

Please tell me you have already read this book! It is so, so, so, so good. Definitely on my Top Ten Books of All Time. Imagine my delight when I met Tom and he was as big a fan of this book as I was! This book is about everything having to do with love: friendship, loyalty, unity, marriage, adventure, and ultimately, loss and sorrow. It’s the love story of Sheldon and his wife, Davey, who dies very young. It’s also, more importantly, a love story between the author and God, specifically about how the loss of his wife ultimately draws him into a relationship with the Lord. Warning: you will cry.

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The 5 Love Languages, by Gary Chapman

I know you’ve taken the love language test, and probably talked the subject to death in college with your friends, but this book is popular for good reason! It identifies the common ways people give and receive love, and at its core is about understanding the way your spouse communicates. Lots of practical advice and quizzes in here (and who doesn’t love a good psycho-analyzing quiz?!).

I’m sure I have read many other book on love, marriage, communication, and so forth, but those are the five that stand out for me as the most impacting, and ones I would come back to again and again.

What are your favorite books on marriage??

(Linking up with 5 Favorites at Efficient Momma). 

Playground Busybodies and Openness to Life

Playground Busybodies and Openness to Life

I never would have imagined that casual playground conversations with total strangers, neighbors I’ve known for 5 minutes, could quickly turn to personal, and may I say, intimate, topics. There we are one second, discussing teething woes and sleep habits, and the next I’m asked to divulge the innermost workings of my sex life. In a casual way, though, because apparently that’s not taboo. This particular case was a stay-at-home dad, who of course was in shock when I told him that my two girls are 15 months apart in age.

“Wow! So, you just got at it right away, huh?!”

(…Yes, sir. We… did). “Um, yeah…! They’re a lot of fun!”

“You figured  you’d just get all the hard stuff over with at once?”

(I’m envisioning that many more years of fertility will mean many more years of this “hard stuff”). “I guess so…?”

At this point, I figured he was done with the inquisition of my very personal family planning history and possible future, but nay.

“So, two girls? And Dad’s ok with that??”

(Well, you know, I really tried to make it a boy, but, wouldn’t ya know? Didn’t work!) “Yeah, he loves them! We definitely want some boys, but for now we’re just good at girls, it seems!”

And then, thankfully, my oldest decided it was time to head home for lunch.

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Flash-back to 11 month old Lucy on one of her first playground excursions

I shouldn’t really be surprised by this variation on a theme that plays out in multiple conversations I have with other parents, all total strangers. No one ever has any qualms jumping right to these intimate questions, about family size, when we’ll be “done”, why we had children so close, so soon, and now apparently, even our children’s gender, as if that’s something we can control, too. But in a culture where children are seen by most people as an accessory, the next “thing” you do as a responsible, debt-free, home-owning, dog-owning, two-income couple, why shouldn’t we talk about them as things? When couples can turn off the woman’s fertility at will, and then assume they have the power to turn it back on, why shouldn’t we talk openly about when, how, and why we want to space our possible children? With total strangers.

Never was I intending to open fire on his lifestyle choices: why does your wife work instead of you? Was your career not lucrative enough? Are you wife? No. Because that is his life, and I literally have no say or stake in it, nor do I want to pry into his personal business. I don’t have that right. It never fails to amaze me that people have so utterly lost the art of polite conversation, and have no problem letting themselves into the privacy of your marriage unasked.

I know that living in an upper-middle class, mostly white neighborhood, I will continue to have this conversation on repeat. Except it will probably get weirder as I have more and more children. What’s “cute” or “fringe” right now to people will probably look downright ridiculous a few kids later. It’s a small price to pay to witness to the inherent goodness of life, but it is a price. It requires getting over what people think, smiling and gritting your teeth at the approximately 1,000th rendition of, “You’ve got your hands full!”, and calmly and happily admitting that YES, you will have more, NO, you’re not done, YES, it’s a lot of work, and definitely, YES, better you than they. If people are going to ask ridiculous, intrusive questions, they are going to get the truth. But they are going to get it with a smile, because I want them to know that I chose this willingly, and believe it or not, I like it. And then I will kindly point them to this article, so they know that my 2 small fry are a drop in the bucket compared to this awesome family, who are also, against all odds, enjoying life too.

Life is crazy and we love it!

Life is crazy and we love it!