Friday, May 22, 2015

Because Motherhood is Hard Enough...

Linking up with Like Mother, Like Daughter.

Motherhood is hard enough without having to "go it alone." That's why I'm happy to introduce to you The Little House Mothering podcast!

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Don't you just love this picture?! It was a painting done by Amy's mother, and it is so stunning!

The tagline for the podcast is "The Everywoman's Guide to Good Old-Fashioned Mothering." The podcast and the website are going to be a resource for mothers who want to mother in a more relaxed, intuitive way. Tired of the Mommy wars? Tired of the pressure to be a helicopter parent? Tired of always feeling like you're failing, no matter what you do? Looking for inspiration, encouragement, and moral support. This is the podcast for you! 


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(I love watching them look at their books together. Therese is at the stage where she likes to "read" to Maria - i.e. repeat a story that she's memorized - and it is the cutest thing ever!)

This Monday, The Little House Mothering podcast will premiere! Perfect for if you need to travel on Memorial Day! Download from iTunes and enjoy. :-)

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"Girls! I can't see you. I want to take a picture!"
"Yes, you can, Mommy. You can see our feet!"

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It's a sad day when you start to outgrow your ladybug costume. 

I dearly hope you will join us on Monday for the premiere of The Little House Mothering Podcast!!! Have a lovely weekend, friends!















Wednesday, May 20, 2015

How I Used to Hate Dr. Seuss (and Other Read-Aloud Confessions)

Linking up with Rachel.

Recently, I discovered podcasts (thanks to the wonderful Fountains of Carrots podcast). One of my favorites is Read Aloud Revival. As I've share before, and as anyone who follows us on Instagram knows, our family loves books. Andrew grew up in a home with a lot of books, I grew up in a home with a lot of books, and now our daughters are growing up in a home with a lot of books.

But despite our love of books, I have a confession to make...I'm not a huge fan of reading aloud. I think I enjoy it more when I can just do it one-on-one, but add in one more child and all craziness breaks loose. The Read Aloud Revival podcast definitely inspires me to persist in reading to my girls, but it also gives me some wonderful book suggestions. In fact, that's one of the main reasons why I love it so much!

So, on the off chance that you're like me, I thought I'd share some book suggestions with you. These are our five favorite read alouds...

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Usbourne "That's Not My..." (you can also buy them used on Amazon)

The Usbourne "That's Not My..." series is the one series that I was able to get both of my girls to listen to as babies! They're short and interactive, and they have a repetitive quality to them...which even appeals to the 4 year old! All but one of ours was bought secondhand (usually for pretty cheap from a library booksale) and all of ours have been read many, many, many times!!!

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Before this past weekend, I would have told you that I hated Dr. Seuss. But this past weekend, when we hit up a secondhand book sale, I went ahead and got a few Dr. Seuss books, because I realized...drumroll please...I really only hate the Cat in the Hat. And I think I hate it for the same reasons that I like Romeo and Juliet so little (and I love Shakespeare's plays!). It is just so overdone, and the final nail in the coffin is the PBS Kids version of it, which my girls love and I can't stand.

BUT...there are some awesome Seuss books, and they are super fun to read aloud. I just read Fox in Socks for the first time this weekend, and it was the most fun book I've ever read!

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I kept hearing this recommended across multiple different classical curriculum, including the one we're leaning towards for next year. I had picked up a secondhand copy at this point (not nearly as pretty  as this one, which I'm going to have to put in my Amazon cart sometime soon!) and was reading some to the girls recently and...oh my goodness! It was so lovely, and so easy and enjoyable to read aloud. Another confession? One of the main reasons I like reading aloud poetry is because each selection is short. I can read a poem to the girls and feel like I've actually accomplished something!

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I really love this book, but I don't love to read it aloud nearly as much as I love hearing Andrew read it aloud to the girls. You'll just have to take my word for it, because I'm sure he'll never do it for anyone outside of our immediate family. He reads it in a Forrest Gump-ish accent and it is pretty much the best thing ever. 


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Or any good audiobook, really.

Last true confession...sometimes I just outsource the reading aloud to someone else. This one is the best audiobook that I have ever listened to, and it helped us get through a chapter book and through a looooong car ride. Win all around. Also, Cherry Jones does an excellent job narrating this book!

What are your read aloud confessions?



Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Trying to Find My Tribe

The other day, I shared that we are in the midst of discerning schooling specifics for Therese. We've actually made great strides, and I think we've about got it all figured out for next year. I'll share it all with you once we do, because I think that there are probably other parents in our shoes, and it would be helpful to hear our schooling plans!

I think what I've been struggling with the most, though, is trying to find my tribe.

In the case of schooling, I feel that, in some ways, I can relate the most to the homeschooling mindset. I think this is especially true when it comes to the nitty gritty of specific curriculum and overall educational mindset. In other ways, I find myself feeling most at home in a traditional school setting, mainly because I had a positive experience with traditional school (both Catholic and public), and I feel nostalgic when I remember my own schooling.

Of course, there's a lot more that has gone into our schooling discernment - since we are making the right schooling choice for our daughter, we obviously have to take into account who she is and what her needs are.

But in the midst of all of this, I've found myself wondering...who do I belong with? I don't really 100% fit the mindset of either of those groups, you know?

I've been taken this - pretty seriously - to prayer. And, little by little, I think God is making it clear what direction our family is being called in for next year.

But there's something I'm realizing. It's important to have a solid support group around you and your family. It would be nice if your most inner circle consisted of people who wholeheartedly agreed with every choice you made. But life simply isn't like that. And people aren't like that. They aren't so black and white and clear cut.

Some of my dearest friends are people who have made decisions that are very different than mine, for themselves and for their families. But each of those people plays a significant role in my life. God works through each of them, even when we don't see eye to eye.

Ultimately, I'm realizing that I just won't find my "perfect tribe" here on earth. I won't really feel that I 100% belong anywhere until I am finally home (in heaven). But realizing that helps me to relax, and to be more open to the ways that God is helping me find people I can relate to.

Andrew's Ph.D class consists of five guys (including himself, and no, they don't own their own burger place). In that group, one other guys is Catholic, one is Greek Orthodox, one is from a Baptist tradition, and the last one is Presbyterian. All of them are married, and most have children. It is a really diverse group, but they are some of the most phenomenal people we have ever met. I love their wives, Andrew gets along with his classmates, and their children are adorable. Out of this very diverse group, we have all formed a common bond - the bond of wanting to get through this doctoral program, and of wanting to support these men in getting their degrees so that they can use those degrees to spread the Gospel, each in his own way. I will always look back at these five years of our marriage with gratitude for these people we have walked alongside.

Despite the fact that we live in a fallen world, full of division, there are these glimmers of hope. There are moments and encounters in which we find unity, even where it seems there should be division. These are marks of the Holy Spirit at work.



We are, all of us, in need of the Holy Spirit. He gives us the grace we need to seek and find unity with each other, and to be less judgmental of one another. I struggle so much with being judgmental, but it is mainly because I feel insecure myself! And, I'm guessing that I'm not alone in this.

In the Liturgy of the Hours this week, the antiphons, prayers, and Scripture readings this week are all pointing to one thing - Pentecost. They are filled with pleadings for the gift (and gifts!) of the Holy Spirit.

While I've been trying so desperately to find the place where I belong, I'm beginning to realize that it's less about where I belong and more about with whom I belong. If I follow on the coattails (figuratively speaking) of the Holy Spirit, I will somehow find my tribe.

Monday, May 18, 2015

What To Do When It Feels Like You're Praying Wrong

Linking up with Fine Linen and Purple. (And thanks to you them for recommending the book!)

Do you ever feel as if you are praying wrong?

I doubt that I'm the only one who feels this way. Sometimes - especially since becoming a mother - my prayers feel all wrong.

I shared about this a little bit over at Ignitum Today. I just find myself going through more dry patches of prayer than usual, since becoming a mother. As I shared last week, I've found that it helps me to have regular, set prayers and prayer times. For me, that means praying several of the hours from the Liturgy of the Hours. I've loved the psalms since I was a child, and I find that they often put into words what I can't. So the Liturgy of the Hours is an excellent fit for me.

And as I said last week, the Liturgy of the Hours isn't for everyone, and it certainly isn't the only form of structured prayer. The rosary is another popular one, as is the Angelus and both can easily be spread over the course of the day, or prayed multiple times a day.


I think that we are (sadly) in a culture right now where what is right is often determined by what feels right. If something makes you feel good, it can't be wrong...right? And if something doesn't make you feel good, it must be wrong...right?

One of the areas of life that has suffered most from this mentality is marriage. Not in love with your spouse anymore? You deserve happiness! Divorce them! Find someone who will make you happy? Attracted to people of the same gender? You should be happy! Pursue the relationship! You have a right to be as happy as anybody!

Unfortunately, none of these things leads to true happiness. True happiness is found in pursuing the good, not in pursuing what merely feels good. 

Happiness doesn't always feel good. Rather, it is a state of goodness itself, a state that often includes good feelings, but which is good even without those good feelings.


Let me give you a concrete example. As regular readers know, I had hyperemesis gravidarum during both of my pregnancies, and was pretty sick for the better part of a year, both times. Pregnancy is not a "happy" experience for me, in that it leaves me feeling pretty miserable. But in pregnancy, I find true happiness - I am suffering for love, and it helps me learn to love another with sacrificial love, a Christ-like love. Even when it doesn't feel good, it ultimately leads to my true happiness. 

I can give you an even more concrete example. When the weather gets warm, I try to exercise as many days as I am able. The neighborhood we're in is ridiculously hilly, and I'm usually biking with 60ish lb behind me, or pushing that around that amount in a stroller in front of me. There are times (like in the rare flat stretches in the neighborhood) where I do enjoy those walks, but there are also some stretches that are absolutely miserable. Yet, those walks make my body feel so much healthier. I suffer from very mild PCOS, which affects my fertility, but which also affects  my weight (at least since my pregnancy with Therese it does). When I eat right and also exercise, my body looks and feels much healthier. I don't always feel happy feelings while doing it, but I know that it leads to a greater happiness.

The same is true for prayer. 

Just because I don't always "feel good" when praying, doesn't mean that the prayer isn't leading to my true happiness. Ultimately, my true happiness (and yours, too!) lies in perfect mystical union with God, in heaven. But, the process of getting there is not an overnight thing. It takes time, and it takes stretches where praying is boring or stressful or anxious. Anything worth having - a healthy marriage, a beautiful child born of a tough pregnancy, a healthy mind and body - takes time and effort. And a relationship with God is worth having more than anything else. So, suffice it to say, there will be painful growth periods in a healthy prayer life.

Most likely, if you feel like you're praying wrong - if your prayer feels dry and emotionless - you are probably doing everything right. In fact, you are probably in a period of tremendous growth in your faith life.

God will give you the grace you need, if only you ask. But, you also must be committed to praying, even when it feels like you're doing it all wrong.

Ironically, that's when you're doing it all right. ;-)


I'll tell you another kind of prayer that's really challenging - praying with children. There are some times that I really love praying with my girls, but more often than not, prayer time is loud, and busy, and totally unfocused. People are screaming (ahem, in-residence toddler, ahem), talking, playing, wiggling, and it can be just plain crazy.

But even in those moments, it's worth doing - even if only in a very small way.

So, on the heels of the success of the rosary book, I'll be releasing a sequel - a companion designed just for praying with your children. 


It's a very simple book. And did I mention it's written primarily in verse? I wanted it to be something beautiful that you could read aloud, even if only one short prayer at a time. 

In my experience, most rosary books for children are either majorly dumbed down, or are written at a level too high for children to understand. This one is simple, but theologically sound, and each prayer is designed to help your child imagine that she or he is actually in the mystery.

I don't have a release date yet, but I hope to release the e-book soon! I want to share it with all of you, during this beautiful month of May, the month of Mary. More details coming soon!

Have a lovely rest of your Monday, friends!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Sale Extended!! (And 7 Quick Takes)

Linking up with Kelly.

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I extended the sale price of Rosaries Aren't {Just} for Teething) for one more day. Go get your Kindle copy today for only $2.99!


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Someone on Facebook asked if the PDF was on sale, and it wasn't yesterday. But, for all you Nook or other e-reader users out there...it's on sale today through Sunday! Also for only $2.99! You can purchase the PDF here. Enter discount code mydomesticmonastery at checkout. 

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We're in the thick of school discussions and discernment over here, trying to find a balance between homeschooling and traditional school, both of which appeal to us. More and more, there are options for part-time traditional schooling and part-time homeschooling, and the balance of both worlds intrigues us. But we're still doing lots of thinking, talking, researching, and praying to determine what God is calling our family to. We love homeschooling, but we love the traditional classroom setting, in small doses. Have any of you had this experience? What are your thoughts and experiences with this?

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One of the things that makes me want to keep homeschooling in the mix (especially past preschool, when academics and curriculum matter more) is the draw to classical education. I love reading, Andrew loves reading, and both our daughters are already in love with books and being read to. I love the idea of making sure that they encounter many of the classic works of literature in elementary school and high school, and of them learning classic languages, literary analysis, etc. The classical method isn't one that most schools use these days, but I think it's beautiful, and very much in keeping with our family culture.

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Okay, enough homeschool/school chatting. Let's talk books! Did I tell you that I discovered Willa Cather and all I can think is...how did I not find this author sooner??? I'm on the second book of her prairie trilogy, The Song of the Lark, and recently finished O Pioneers. I was especially intrigued by how O Pioneers incorporated pioneer Catholics into the story. Fascinating!


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On the book theme, please say that you're familiar with Baby Lit??? We only have one of them so far but Maria had me reading it ad nauseum the other day. Such cute books!


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As they say, off to the races! Have a lovely weekend, friend. :-)



Thursday, May 14, 2015

How to Pray Like a Honeymooner

Linking up with Like Mother, Like Daughter.

(Pictures courtesy of our Mother's Day hike. If you'd told me, 10 years ago, that I would spend my Mother's Day hiking, I would have thought you were crazy. The two have officially become one, and Andrew has almost won me over to his crazy nature-loving ways. Almost.)

Okay, first of all, whenever I hear the word honeymooner, I think of this:


If you watched that clip and are suddenly overwhelmed with nostalgia, then we are kindred spirits...even if we are decades apart in age. ;-)

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I get in these ruts with prayer. I feel as if, ever since I got married, most of my prayer life is extremely dry. It may have been that I was just semi-spoiled before, and maybe God gave me a lot of consolations. But honestly, I feel like I've had to re-learn how to pray as a married person.

There was the newness of sharing a room with a husband, combined with the strangeness of no longer living in a dorm that had a chapel where Jesus was present in the Eucharist 24/7. (Yes, spoiled. Love thee Notre Dame.) I had to re-learn how to pray...in my bedroom. Or in a big, spacious church, where other people were praying, too. And it was hard to focus!

We've been married for almost six years, and I've had some much better stretches with prayer than I used to. But, let's be honest, I tend toward anxiety by nature, and I have a really hard time settling down enough to pray. And then, there are also the million interruptions that come when you share a relatively small space with other people, especially if two of those people depend on your for survival and the third for companionship. 

Andrew and I have been good about having prayer be a part of our nighttime routine since before we were married (back when we'd have to pray together and then part ways for the evening...I don't miss those days!). So, even if our prayers are short at time, we have our own specific rhythm that we've developed over time.

But individual prayers...that's another story.

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I don't even think I had a set prayer routine for stretches of our marriage. When we were newlyweds, and I was in the ECHO program, the Liturgy of the Hours was a part of the flavor of that community, so I fell more deeply in love with that practice. I don't remember exactly, but I think I continued to pray it in some small capacity after we got married.

But then I had my Therese. My world was turned upside down, and suddenly my time wasn't my own, and neither was my prayer life. I still tried to pray, though.

At some point in the last year, I was listening to an interview with Auntie Leila about The Little Oratory. At the time, in great part because of my crazy pregnancy with Maria, my prayer life was all over the place. Then, I heard that interview and suddenly remembered, "Oh, duh. The Liturgy of the Hours." I fell back in to that practice again, only this time, I used online apps to pray it (since I often had to pray with a nursing baby in arms). My current favorite app is iBreviary. (Available for iPhones and Android devices and some others?) It's true to the text you'd find in the book form, and there are options for following the daily readings, too.

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(Please stop crushing the worm, Maria.)

What I especially love about the Liturgy of the Hours is that you have a built in structure to pray everyday and throughout the day. And it's all laid out for you!

But that's not really what I wanted to talk about with you today. I wanted to talk to you about praying like a honeymooner. And by that I mean, pray like a honeymooner in terms of your relationship with God. 

So, Andrew and I have been married for almost six years, and we've known each other for almost eight years. That isn't an extremely long time, but it's definitely long enough that we are no longer in the honeymoon stage of our relationship. It is easy to spend time together, to do things together, when you are still very much feeling "in love." Early on in our relationship, Andrew and I practically had to force ourselves to spend time apart. Now there are days that we have to remind ourselves to spend time together. It isn't because we don't still love each other like crazy. If anything, our love is deeper now than it was when we were dating - far deeper. We've been through so much together in that short time - difficult pregnancies and post-partum depression and surgeries and grad school and moves to totally new states and first jobs and...well, a lot. And we've loved each other through each of those things, supported each other, and we love each other now more than we could have ever imagined. The two have truly become one, and we feel each other joys and sorrows more deeply than we ever thought possible.

But let's be honest - you can't sustain lovey-dovey feelings forever. It's just not how relationships work. Yes, I still feel those lovey-dovey feelings from time to time. But for the most part, loving Andrew is a choice. I choose to love him, even when I don't feel like loving. And the same is true for him.

But sometimes, when we're stressed and I'm wondering, Why did I marry this man, exactly?!, it is helpful to recall those early days of our relationship. It's helpful to remember what it felt like to be head over heels in love. It's helpful to remember what that felt like, and to recall that that person - the person who I fell head over heels in love with - is the person who I am now married to. It's helpful to recall how much I used to wish I didn't have to say good night to him and go our separate ways at the end of the day. It helps to remember falling in love with his incredible blue eyes, and to take an extra moment to appreciate them on sunny days (when they look as blue as ever). And typically, when I remember all that, I get a taste of those feelings back. And even when I don't get a taste of those lovey-dovey feelings, I'm still usually deeply convicted, yet once again, that I love Andrew and that I'm glad that I've promised to always do so.

So, how does this relate to my prayer life?

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There were plenty of times in my earlier life (especially late high school through college) when I was so head over heels in love with God. There were so many times that praying in a church or chapel was effortless, when praying the Liturgy of the Hours made my heart soar with love. There were so many times that going to Mass was a beautiful, consoling experience, and one in which I could actually pay attention to what was happening (sans wiggly babies in my arms).

And it helps, truly it does, to recall those times in my dry stretches of prayer. It helps to remember the "honeymoon days" of my spiritual life, to recall the silent retreat I took in college, my favorite places to pray on walks around campus, and how much I loved running up the block to our parish during my visits back home. And when I recall those things, I can't help but get a taste again of those feelings of consolation and love for God. And even when I don't get a taste of those feelings I'm still convicted, yet once again, that I love God, and I'm glad I have committed to always do so.

And of course, like with Andrew, my relationship with God is a relationship. It is not all dependent on me. And often times, when I put effort into my relationship with Andrew, that effort is reciprocated. When I put effort in my relationship with God, well, He's always there. He isn't there because I'm putting effort into the relationship. He's just there because He's faithful.

Yet, in those moments of dryness, I do find it extremely helpful to recall my honeymoon days in my relationship with God, and to recall how deeply I love Him and how deeply He loves me. And recalling that keeps me going in the rough patches.

God works tremendously during those dry patches. Tremendously. But it helps to form a habit of prayer, to get through those dry patches. It helps to not just throw out prayers whenever you feel like it, the way it's helpful to not just grab random snacks throughout the day, but never sit down to eat a meal. It's important to be nourished and fed by a regular prayer life.

There isn't a right or a wrong way to do this, but having a regular rhythm of prayer helps. It helps to have motions to go through on the days when you don't feel like going through the motions. It helps to have words to say when you don't feel like speaking. That prayer routine can look however you want - the Angelus said thrice daily, the Liturgy of the Hours, the daily readings in the morning, a Hail Mary at the key points in your day, a decade of the rosary prayed during naptime. Whatever it is, no matter how simple, I strongly encourage you to establish a prayer routine. Your life will be so much richer and healthier for it! Let yourself be nourished by God!

Still struggling with prayer? I do have a book suggestion for you...



For today only, the book is on sale in the Kindle store for only $2.99, down from its usual price of $6.99. So if you haven't gotten your copy yet, today is the day to do so!!!! Click here to buy your Kindle copy today! (Did you know that the book is also in the Kindle match program? If you already bought the paperback, you can actually buy the Kindle copy for only $2.99, anytime!) 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Ooops! Technical Glitch and Other Glitches of an Introvert

Ooops! I had the shop settings wrong, and we accidentally sold out of the PDF copies. They're fixed now, and PDF copies a plenty of Rosaries Aren't {Just} for Teething! Click here to buy your copy today!


Can you switch personality types? I don't think I was an introvert when I was growing up, but I most definitely am one now. I love reading Ana's blog, because as a mama of a passle of (mostly) little girls, she gets it. Mothering little girls as an introvert isn't for the faint of heart.

But here's the thing...it stretches me.

Slow clap here, I know. Because isn't that obvious? Of course motherhood stretches me. But I mean...mothering people with personality types different than my own is forcing me to be humble. I tend to be self-sufficient, always trying to do things by myself and to do everything for everyone else. Andrew is rapidly working away on his initial draft of his dissertation, and I'm trying to do all that I can to give him as much time as he needs. I'm trying to give him plenty of time in his office, with the door closed.




But not this morning. This morning, I'm the one sitting in our bedroom (my office) with the door closed, typing away. I've been in more than a little bit of a rut lately, and my energy (and patience) just feel totally sapped. I could push through that, and snap at little people every five seconds. Or, I could admit that I'm having a rough morning/day/week/month, and take advantage of the fact that my husband is working from home this morning and has a little extra time to spare. I can humble myself, and accept his help.

The funny thing is...this isn't just about self care. It's about getting ready for heaven.

If I want to be ready for heaven someday (God willing) then I need to learn to be humble. I need to learn that I can't do everything on my own. I need to learn to ask for help when I need it. 



I think that a big part of purgatory will be polishing away all of our remaining imperfections and unhealthy attachments. If that's the case, my purgatory may very well consist of me sitting in a room, surrounding by wailing children of mine, and needing to ask for help. Over and over again, needing to ask for help.

Goodness, I'm bad at that. And even when I do accept help, I'm terrible at not being fraught with guilt over it.



God, grant me the grace.

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