Ten Minutes

The blogging bug has bitten me. I feel like slapping down some words down in this space only I don’t have any wisdom to impart or grand things to share. However, in the spirit of a new Testosterhome tradition, I’m going to set a timer for 10 minutes and just write. Verbal diarrhea doesn’t sound so nice, but that’s what will probably spew out.

Ten minutes. Go!

I’m somewhere beautiful. (Actually, I was somewhere beautiful. I wrote this almost a week ago but am just now getting around to publishing it. I’ve enjoyed writing without feeling that everything has to be timely.)

Hint: There’s a lot of sand and blue sky and water, and my kids smell like the Gulf.

I’ve been reading a lot as well as mentally coming up with the characters and general plot of the chick lit book I’m finally going to sit down and write. I used to want to write a great literary novel – something similar to what Anne Tyler, one of my favorite authors, Ten Minutes writes. But lately I’ve been drawn to writing something fun, breezy, romantic, and easy-to-read. (And something that’s probably more marketable and easier to get published, but I’m way ahead of myself there). What I’ve come up with so far is a book that will fall more in to the mom lit genre – a spin off of the popular chick lit books. I’m only mentioning it here to have some accountability. Sit. Down. And. Write. Stay away from Twitter and Facebook updates, all those time suckers that are atrophying the craft of writing.

Aside from diving back into fiction, I’m running again. And feeling how old I have become. I have a leg length difference. I’ve lived with this physical and fairly significant discrepancy for a long time, but I have never felt it so acutely. I once could run for miles and miles and experience only an occasional ache or twinge if I, say, landed in an unexpected dip in the road. Now nearly every stride taunts me (feel that shockaroo, oldie!), but I keep going. I’ve met a lovely mom-friend who is my running buddy. We meet early. We run. I yammer on. Then I usually apologize for yammering on. She keeps inviting me to run and to yammer. I push myself but not too much. And despite the achy (old) hip, I feel good. I am one of those weird people who actually enjoys running.

I have several speaking engagements coming up. Most of them are geared for mothers, but I have one that will address an audience of parents of tweens and teens. I have lots to say on the dignity of the body and helping to raise children with a healthy body image. I’m thrilled about these opportunities, but this one in particular is going to require some supernatural help. First off, because as much as I’m an expert in hazardous waste removal raising all of these stinky and prolifically pooping littles, I’m well aware that the challenges I face are mostly of the physically-exhausted variety and that the emotional fatigue will come later when my children are older and still may throw tantrums but possibly won’t want to hug and makeup once the fussing and shouting has abated.

Second, I admit my own body image has been a little shaky for myriad reasons lately despite the empowering feeling running again has given me. I can’t seem to lose the last 5 to 7 pounds from my pregnancy with Thomas. I don’t want to live in that awful limbo where I’m bound by the belief that when I lose those last few pounds, life will be perfect and I will love the way I look every day partly because I know it’s not true. But mainly because I’m at a perfectly healthy weight carrying around these extra few pounds and don’t want to get stuck on an arbitrary number.  Been there. Done that. The allure of being 5, 10, 20, 30-plus pounds thinners is far more appealing than the reality of it.

And that’s a wrap. Ten minute’s is up. Random but fun.

A side note: I’ll be a guest on Relevant Radio’s Morning Air show tomorrow 8 a.m. EST. Tune in if you can!

This & That

I received my December issue of Cooking Light, and there was a great article about eating mindfully. Like I discussed in this anti-dieting post, the article encouraged readers to think in terms of choosing to do something or choosing not to do something rather than telling yourself, “I should eat this,” or “I shouldn’t eat that.”

The article also included a great quote that I’m going to type up, print out, and put in a prominent spot as I enter what can easily become the holiday-binge-fest-I-feel-rounder-than-Jolly-Old-Saint-Nick-right-about-now-season.

“Never eat anything you don’t enjoy and truly enjoy everything you eat.”

The message here is beautifully simple: Don’t swear off gastronomy during the holidays – or ever. And don’t rush through the ritual of eating. I’ll add these tips as well: Don’t mindlessly nosh on Doritos at the holiday potluck. (You can have chips any old time.) Instead, make your taste buds happy. Dive into the chocolate fondue. Eat foods that are special during this special time of year. And if you overindulge, try to keep the focus on the present. Put the fork down, think about how delicious your treat was, and then start choosing healthy bites (not boring ones) that you still will enjoy. When we overeat, it’s so tempting to tell ourselves we’ll start anew tomorrow, so we eat another sleeve of Oreos since we’ve already screwed up instead of trying to eat more mindfully right at the very moment we realize we might have caved in to gluttony.

***

But enough about food. I have other things on my mind like Advent.

I meant to get my act together and compile a post of Advent activities, but ever since our fourth baby arrived I’m finding it increasingly difficult to devote all that much time to this blog. Taking care of my family and myself is a full time job. (That simple statement is fodder for an entire post or column – one I plan to piece together one of these days, but don’t hold me to it.) Since there will be no official “how we do Advent” post, I’ll share a past link that includes some of our family’s own traditions as well as links to other folks’ Advent-themed posts: Preparing Our Hearts and Homes.

giving tree 225x300 This & ThatOne new tradition I’ll share is our Giving Tree. I recently read Shell Silverstein’s The Giving Tree  This & Thatto the girls, and we discussed it together talking about things like how the tree could symbolize our all-loving God. Since we’re going to be preoccupied with Turkey Day business this week, we went ahead and made our Giving Tree and hung it up on the kitchen even though I’m intending for it to be an Advent activity. We all worked on coloring the trunk together. Madeline was in charge of drawing the leaves. I cut them out, and Rachel glued them onto the branches. All the girls colored a few apples, and Madeline and I cut them out.

I told the girls that during the Advent season they could earn “apples” by making sacrifices or by doing something above and beyond their normal calls of duties. Madeline, for instance, wanted to get an apple for making her bed, but I told her that’s something she’s expected to do daily. However, when she voluntarily offered to let her sister pick what to watch during their special screen time, she earned an apple. The wonderful Catholic Mosaic: Living the Liturgical Year With Children This & That actually recommends something similar during the month of Lent, but we always make Lenten mice and tie knots in their tails for sacrifices, so I wanted something different for Advent.

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Notes from the Trenches

My babymoon is going so well. I’m tired, but I’ve just felt really happy and content this postpartum period. I’ve also really made peace with the fact that I just don’t have time to piece together perfect prose (or much prose at all) these days. I love this blog and writing, but they’re definitely not a priority right now.

It’s all good. Life is all good right now.

So for now I’m popping in here for a few quick notes:

1. I just finished a great Weightless  Notes from the Trenchesinterview with Leo Brown for Real Presence Radio. Thank you for having me!

2. My mom is back home today after having surgery to remove a tumor in her jaw. The surgeon is fairly confident it’s benign, and Mom once again amazes me with her courage, her optimism, and her refusal to give in to self-pity or to start complaining about anything. She called me today, sounding like her happy self. Unfortunately, the procedure has resulted in some worse pain from her trigeminal neuralgia. We’re hoping this won’t continue. She’d just started having a little relief from her facial and head pain. Prayers for this saint-in-the-making are always appreciated. (I also continue to be impressed with my dad and his dedication and love for his bride.)

3. Thomas slept one five-hour stretch last night. I’m in shock. None of my kids have ever done this. He’s just over five weeks. I probably should have kept my mouth shut because sometimes it seems like you just curse yourself when you yammer on about sleep milestones, but I’m just so giddy. The only bummer is I woke up with rocks for breasts. I did pump before I nursed him after he woke up (a crazy 4 ounces in two minutes – sheesh), but the poor guy was still gulping like a frat boy doing a keg stand. I had to keep him upright for a long time after he nursed, and wet burps and hiccups kept him from drifting off to Slumberland for about two hours. Still, it’s amazing how seven hours of fragmented sleep can feel like total nirvana to a sleep-deprived mama.

4. I recently received an athletic shirt from Mamas Movin’ with Mary, and I was blown away by the quality. I actually wore the shirt today when I  braved pushing the double stroller with my 2-year-old and Thomas for a short walk (I stupidly took along our Great Dane-Lab mix and kept tripping over her). Not only do I love the mission of Mamas Movin’ with Mary to strengthen your body and your soul, but the shirt is made with moisture-wicking fabric, which is so much better to wear than cotton when you’re working out. It also features the creative words “Hail Marys Aren’t Just for Football.” Sweet Madeline said that Uncle Josh would love my shirt because “it’s Catholic and about football.” Do check out their mission and their great lineup of products. (I am not getting paid to say any of this. Promise.)

5. We’ve moved Mary Elizabeth (2) from my husband and my bed this week into the big girl bed with her sisters, and she’s doing great!  The girls look so cute piled together on one bed. We have a top bunk for them, but no one wants to sleep up there alone. They’re much happier with the family bed, or I guess I should now say the sister bed.

6. Two great but very different books I read while on bed rest and the early postpartum period: Room by Emma Donnoghue and A Little Way of Homeschooling Notes from the Trenches by Suzie Andres. Melanie Bettinelli inspired me to read both. I have lots to say about A Little Way and hope to get to it one of these days. What I’ll say for now is it’s a wonderful book to read whether you’re an unschooler or even a homeschooler or not. My family is still discerning what we’re going to do for next year, and the book really helped to remind me to pray about this and to know that my kids will be okay no matter what we decide. I went crazy highlighting passages, but I keep returning to these words:

“He says that His yoke (our work, done in union with Him) is easy, and His burden (which He shares with us in our daily duties) is light. How can we, alongside St. Thérèse, find a way to make our children’s education light and easy? For us and for them?”

That’s key, I think. Finding a path that does not feel burdensome or weigh you down. This doesn’t mean you won’t have rough days or even rough months or years, but there will be peace, even if it’s just on the interior and your life looks a little messy and chaotic, if you repeatedly turn to Him for help, guidance, and heaps of grace.

That’s all for now. My husband is around today, and he told me I should try to take a nap. He’s right. (He almost always is.)

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