Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

There’s something about a new year. isn’t there?  So fresh and clean with none of the last year’s mistakes . . . yet.  It’s natural to want to apply the newness to our lives, to make them fresh and clean as well.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who resolves to tackle household clutter at this time of year.  When it’s cold out, we naturally spend more time indoors enjoying cozy pursuits, and I have a hard time relaxing when my house is making me feel unhappy and anxious.

I wrote a super popular post a few years ago, about our American problem with too much stuff, and last year I acquired the popular minimalism guide by Marie Kondo.  And I made some progress, but this is going to be my year.

Because last year I read a book that didn’t only talk about minimalism and explain it.  This book anchored it in Catholicism, and that’s an unbeatable combination.

not of this world

Sterling Jaquith, the author of Not of This World  (which I was given by the author in exchange for my honest opinion in this post) hit the nail on the head when she wrote this: “Nothing in this world will ever really satisfy us.  Our ultimate desire will always be for God, and that is why I believe all Catholics should embrace a lifestyle of minimalism.”  This makes so much sense to me.  Our consumeristic culture encourages us to fill our emptiness with more and more stuff, but it never ends, does it?  We are always looking toward the next “must-have” item.

As my readers know, I was forced into minimalism a few years ago when my house burned down.  I was involuntarily relieved of the burden of too much stuff.  My relationship to the things of this world was changed instantly, and the result is that clutter I might have once not given a second glance now makes me anxious.  I have intentionally chosen to acquire very few extraneous personal possessions, and I ruthlessly get rid of things regularly, but the stuff seems to pile up anyway.

I find this overwhelming, and the problem is hard to tackle.  I need help, and this book provides it.  The opening chapters explain minimalism, and offer personal examples of what can happen to people who live their lives piling up possessions.  I recently traveled to Baltimore to help my mother-in-law go through some of the stuff in her home of more than 60 years prior to her moving into a small apartment.  She is very happy in her new place, but getting rid of her possessions has been very hard–not just logistically, but emotionally.  How much easier not to buy things and become attached to them in the first place!

Sterling goes on to remind us of the minimalist beginnings of Christianity–Jesus was born in a stable, after all!  His followers were poor, and throughout the ages those in religious lives have continued to vow poverty.  Following their example will bring us peace and space: “We’re going to create more space in our lives to connect with the Lord . . . The more we follow His will, the more peace we have and deep down, this is what we all desire.”

For me, this focus on Christianity is what sets the book apart from other minimalism guides and makes it uniquely motivating for me.  But that doesn’t mean the other stuff is neglected!  Much of the book involves detailed week-by-week and room-by-room instructions for decluttering, along with access to printable worksheets to help you do it.  There are also special sections for larger families, homeschooling families, and people who live in small spaces.

I am starting on Monday to follow Sterling’s program.  Buy the book right here and you can do it too!  Even better, you can join in online and get explanatory and motivations videos from Sterling and feedback from other people going through the program!

Read Full Post »

And now for a quick trip through 2017, with some of my favorite pictures!

JANUARY:  Along with millions of women (and men!) around the world, Emily and I participated in the Women’s March.  I wrote about that here and here.  It was pouring down rain–an absolutely miserable day–and I love this picture that shows what a crowd turned out anyway.  This is what democracy looks like!

Best of 2017 - Women's March

FEBRUARY:  John and I took a weekend trip to Gatlinburg, which I wrote about here.  One highlight was moonshine tasting.  Here you can see all that goodness being brewed, right out in public!

Best of 2017 - Gatlinburg

MARCH:  William turned 16.  I chose this picture because I love the look of delight on his face.  He usually wears a rather solemn expression.

Best of 2017 - Willima's birthday

APRIL:  My sister Betsy treated my mother, our other sister, and me to VIP tickets to The Gambler’s Last Deal, the final tour for Kenny Rogers, which I wrote about here.

Best of 2017 - Kenny Rogers

MAY:   Of course the biggest event this month was Teddy’s graduation, but since I already shared so many pictures of that, I’m choosing this favorite from one of several trips to Dollywood.  This is Lorelei with her cousin Ella.

Best of 2017 - Dollywood

JUNE:  A trip to the zoo.  We got season tickets this year.  This is part of the new tiger exhibit, about which more later.

Best of 2017 - Zoo

JULY:  We went on a wonderful trip to Pennsylvania for a family reunion.  I hope to write that up at some point.  For now, this is an animatronic Spinosaurus from our trip to Clyde Peeling’s Reptiland, which was definitely the highlight of the reunion as far as William was concerned.

Best of 2017 - Reptiland

AUGUST:  Another trip to the zoo, where we were able to get up close and personal with the two Malayan tigers.

Best of 2017 - zoo

SEPTEMBER:  In another trip I want to write about this year, we spent a weekend in Cincinnati.  We were there to see the exhibit of original Star Wars costume, one of which is pictured below.  What a thrill!

Best of 2017 - Cincinnati

OCTOBER:  My porch chairs continue to make me very happy.  Decorating for Autumn is another thing that makes me happy.

best of 2017 - porch

NOVEMBER:   Lorelei, William, and I attended the annual rosary service at Calvary Cemetery, Knoxville’s only Catholic graveyard.  I’ll be going back to take more pictures before I do a long-overdue write up.

Best of 2017 - Calvary Cemetery

DECEMBER:  In 2018, I will get a new title–mother-in-law! Jake asked Jessica to marry him a few days after Christmas, so I will have a wedding to tell you about this spring.

Best of 2017 - engagement

To see photo essays from past years, click the links below:

2013

2014

2015

2016

I’m linking up at Revolution of Love with other folks who like to do this too.  Click below for more 2017 photos!

2017in12_logo_640-1

 

 

Read Full Post »

At the end of each blogging year, I like to look at my WordPress stats and do a post about my five most-read posts of the year.  Many times this list will include some evergreen content from years gone by–last year not a single 2016 post made the top five!  Therefore I also indulge myself by highlighting the (six, because I couldn’t decide) posts I liked the best myself!  Shall we begin?

YOUR FAVORITES

Dear Mom in the Pew

This post from 2013, originally written for the now-defunct Mom Pledge blog’s “Dear Mom” challenge, is perennially popular.  I re-run it frequently on Facebook to provide encouragement for mothers with little people who sometimes misbehave in church.

Dear Mom in the Pew

So ten years from now–tomorrow–there will be big quiet kids in your pew and you will be able to pray again.  No one will be staring at you except to admire your lovely family.  You will be the one smiling indulgently at the cute toddler playing peek-a-boo with you over the back of the pew.

But until then, remember, you are doing a wonderful job.

An Open Letter to My Friends Who Want to Repeal Obamacare

This letter of a totally different sort was written in January 2017 and got quite a boost when it was tweeted out by Gates McFadden.

An Open Letter

Remember that there are suffering people who see your Facebook posts, people who are frightened, for whom this isn’t about politics or partisanship or finances but about staying alive.  Remember that, and if you care about those people, watch the tone of your posts.

Bookwalter Cemetery: Pretty but Not Peaceful

This post was one of only two graveyard posts I wrote in 2017, and owes its popularity to my fans on a local history Facebook page.

Bookwalter Cemetery_ Pretty But Not Peaceful

The peaceful silence one associates with cemeteries was notably absent.  In addition to traffic and train noises, I was assailed by the sounds of barking dogs, blaring radios, and bawling babies.  Most disturbing of all, at the back of the cemetery I was transfixed by an argument going on in an adjacent neighborhood, where a landlord was banging on the door of a rental property and making telephone calls to his renter who was evading his attempts to collect rent.  I could not tear myself away from this troubling drama  of the living unfolding just yards away from this not-so-peaceful resting place of the dead.

Five Favorite Marriage Tips

This is from 2014 and I’m glad the advice seems to be holding up!

5 TIPS for a mariage that lasts a lifetime

It’s hard, hard work to live day in and day out with another person, someone who is not your blood relative and who you are bound to by choice.  There are bound to be times when you don’t get along at all.  

Woman Enough to March

This is from January of this year, a time when I was writing a LOT of political posts.

Woman Enough to March_

I’m so tired of being marginalized for one reason or another.  I am sick at heart over the notion that there is only one kind of feminist–our pro-life feminist foremothers be damned!–that the right to unlimited abortion apparently trumps all and that some of us are not woman enough to participate in a Women’s March!  As I posted on Facebook, “It’s like you are not an actual woman if you are not pro-choice.”

MY FAVORITES

My Catholic Uniform

Another political post, specifically on the duty Catholics have to welcome the stranger.

my-catholic-uniform

I don’t wear a red plaid jumper any more, but I have made myself very visibly Catholic on Facebook and elsewhere.  Not just because people who know me in real life know that I am Catholic, but because I often write on Catholic topics and (try to) explain Catholic doctrine.

Iris, Resurrected

My only gardening post of the year, something I hope to make up for in 2018!

Iris, Resurrected

I often think of Mima (who died nine years ago) when I am in my garden.  I feel close to her then because it is a passion that we shared, and if such things are genetic, then my love of gardening is an inheritance from her.

How I Am Rocking Motherhood

A response to a challenge.

How I Am #RockingMotherhood

Because it IS a challenge, in a society that’s hell bent on making mothers feel that they are never quite good enough, to focus on the positive.  And it can be intimidating to toot one’s own horn, especially since I just did not long ago.  Plus I am a perfectionist, and am far more likely to be berating myself for my motherhood failures than congratulating myself on my wins.

A Front Row Seat

In which I wonder why people pay extra to sit up front at concerts while lurking in the back at Mass.

A Front Row Seat

Sitting so far back, I didn’t feel like a full participant in the Mass.  I felt like a spectator.  “It was like being at a concert,” I said later.  You know the kind–where the performer on stage could almost be anyone if there were no Jumbotron to display closeups.

Just Like That

A tear-inducing reflection on the departure of my middle child from home for real.

Just Like That

But here’s the deal:  we aren’t trying to be bossy or irritating or to minimalize the work and stress of coping with small children–we just want you to realize what we didn’t; we want you to fully experience the joy of what you have, because we would give anything just to have one more day of it.

A Confederate General’s Great-great-great-granddaughter Speaks Out

My contribution to the Civil War statue debate.

A Confederate General's Great-great-great-granddaughter Speaks Out

As his descendant, I disavow and repudiate the Unite the Right protesters and anyone who shares their hateful beliefs in the strongest of terms, and I call upon all descendants of Confederate soldiers to join me in condemning them.  They don’t represent the South and we don’t need these modern-day Carpetbaggers to tell us how best to preserve our heritage.

My collections from prior years are linked below:

2016

2015

2014

I’m linking up with Revolution of Love where you can see collections from other bloggers.  It’s a great way to discover new blogs to follow.

logo_top_ten_posts_2017

 

Read Full Post »

Super-Girls-and-Halos-Blog-Tour-Graphics_1200x400_1017

When I was given the chance to review Maria Morera Johnson’s book Super Girls and Halos: My Companions on the Quest for Truth, Justice, and Heroic Virtue I jumped at the opportunity.  Not only was I intrigued by the title, but who wouldn’t want to read a book by someone whose most recent prizewinning bestseller was entitled My Badass Book of Saints?

I wasn’t disappointed as the book lives up to its title.  It grabbed my attention right at the beginning when the author revealed one of her earliest heroes:  Lieutenant Nyota Uhura of the Starship Enterprise.  Anyone who knows me and my family knows how we feel about Star Trek.  I knew immediately that Mrs. Johnson and I were kindred spirits.

You will never read another book that explores saints and their virtues the way this one does.  Mrs. Johnson blends her personal stories and insights with tales of secular heroines and saints who together exemplify similar virtues.  The Cardinal Virtues of Justice, Prudence, Fortitude, and Temperance are revealed to the reader via the stories of such pop culture icons as Wonder Woman, Dana Scully, Hermione Granger, and Katniss Everdeen, along with the lives of saints like St. Clare of Assisi, St. Mary Magdalene, St. Cunegunde, and St. Kateri Tekakwitha.

These engaging stories are accompanied by explication of the virtues from The Catechism of the Catholic Church and steps for the reader to follow to strive to attain each of them.  And although readers will be learning a lot about saints and virtues, it will feel more like  listening to stories told by a friend.

In her introduction, Mrs. Johnson recounts a moving story of her father’s excitement while watching the first moon landing on television, and how he encouraged her to put her little hand on the screen so that she could touch the future.  She writes:  “My dad, who was my hero, had heroes of his own.  It was a small lesson with a big impact: grown-ups had heroes who were other grown-ups . . . today, grown-up me has lots of grown-up heroes.  I call them saints.”

Reading this book encouraged me to think about my own heroes, and specifically about the saints who have inspired me.  I was a little girl when I first read The Song of Bernadette.  Later I chose St. Bernadette to be my Confirmation saint.

BernadetteSoubirous1121

Bernadette Soubirous was a humble young woman, impoverished and uneducated, who did not aspire to renown.  She found within herself unexpected faith and courage after the Blessed Mother appeared to her.  Once these apparitions ended she was content to enter religious life and lived in seclusion until her painful death from bone cancer at 34.  She refused offers to travel to the miraculous spring at Lourdes, remembering Mary’s words to her: “I cannot promise you happiness in this world but only in the next.”  Unquestioning faith, obedience, and humility are virtues I have yet to achieve but hope to through her intercession and example.

Several bloggers received free copies of Super Girls and Halos from Ave Maria Press in exchange for honest reviews.  There are 15 stops on this blog tour, and a giveaway is part of the fun! Please click below to enter.

Super Girls and Halos Giveaway

To read more Super Girls and Halos Blog Tour posts, click below:

Super-Girls-and-Halos-Blog-Tour-Graphics_1200x1200_1017

Who are your secular heroes?  What about your Saint Super Girl?  I’d love to hear if you’d care to share in the comments!

Read Full Post »

I was a sophomore in high school when I first discovered makeup.  I remember how much fun I had experimenting back then.  I can even remember the name of my favorite lipstick!

Nowadays, though, makeup is a special occasion thing for me.  So you might find it surprising that I am writing a review of a lip product that I received in exchange for my honest opinion.

And it’s a pretty glowing review, y’all.  When I do take time to put on makeup, I reach for lipstick first.  And what’s always so frustrating is how soon the lipstick wears off.  That’s why I am absolutely thrilled with LipSense, which is billed as being “waterproof, kiss-proof, and smear-proof.”  It’s also lead-free, wax free, cruelty free, gluten free, vegan, and kosher.  Pretty impressive, huh?

lipsense

As you can see in the picture above, LipSense comes in tubes with an applicator wand.  I received two tubes, one of a color and the second of a gloss.  You apply the color in three layers to start, then wait a few seconds before finishing off with the gloss.  They are meant to be worn together, and there are so many fun combinations of shades you can try!

In case I haven’t been clear, I really love this stuff.  I like the wand because it gives you control to stay in the lines while applying.  I like the colors I chose.  But most of all, I like how long LipSense stays on my lips.  It really does stay on through a good part of a day, even through eating.  The advertising states that it should last for 4-18 hours.  Mine has always lasted longer than four hours.  It’s amazing!

If you’d like to try LipSense for yourself, my readers can get 15% off any product at Redgate Beauty.  Just enter the code bloggymoms15 when asked for a coupon code at checkout.

Read Full Post »

The world is making sure we know that CHRISTMAS IS COMING.  And that’s why I am getting many requests to share products with you here on the blog.  As a US Family Guide blogger I get offers to share with you, and a free product to try in exchange for my honest review.

Today  I’m talking about TurnGram and I am sincerely excited about trying this service.  Back when I had an actual film camera I used to get triple prints, one set for us, one set for my husband to share with his family, and one set for me to share with the many people I wrote letters to.  Those days are over and although I take far more pictures than I did back in the day, I never make hard copies of them.  So TurnGram is going to be a real treat.  Let me tell you what the company has shared with me:

TurnGram is the perfect gift for everyone on your list…from your closest friend to that hard to buy for relative! For a few bucks a month, TurnGram will select photos from your Instagram feed based on instructions you provide and deliver them directly to the door of your friends and loved ones.

30 Days Free of the Most Unique Holiday Gift – Get your first month FREE when you sign up for TurnGram today! No coupon code required. 100% money back guarantee if you are dissatisfied with our service in any way. Don’t miss out! Sign up today!

Doesn’t that sound cool?  I’m opting to have my pictures sent directly to me. 🙂 I’ll be sure to come back and let you know what I think with TurnGram after I receive my first set.

turngram.png

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: