Yarning Along, Making a Bag


I’m knitting a bag right now (and am much further along than this picture shows). I’m working on the base in seed stitch, and once I’m done with that I will knit the sides in the round using double-pointed needles. It’ll be my first time working in the round AND my first time working with double-pointed needles.  We’ll see how it goes.

I plan on lining the bag with fabric to increase its strength.  A friend‘s daughter suggested a light pink fabric to go with this dark teal yarn.  Smart girl, that one.

Reading: I just finished North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (thanks for the recommendation, Heather) and am almost finished with A Waste of Shame and Other Sad Tales of the Appalachian Foothills by Geoffrey Smagacz.  Two very, very different genres, but, hey, I’m diversifying.

I Gave Up On Parenting Books (#GoodEnoughMom)

When Charity said her Good Enough Mom prompt for this week was parenting books, I thought:

Oh. Boy.

I have some resentment issues surrounding parenting books.  I (still) blame parenting books (and parenting pressure) for much of the non-serenity I had toward the beginning of mommyhood.

It wasn’t PPD.  It wasn’t normal first-child transitioning.  It wasn’t my own crazy thinking.

Nope.  Parenting books.  I BLAME DR. SEARS!

Heh.  Maybe a bit of an overstatement.  I’m not anti-Attachment Parenting per se. But I do like to point fingers at the not-central-issue.  Don’t we all?

I’m pretty sure my underlying assumption to this parent thing was that I could produce The Perfect Child.  I read and misread a lot of parenting books before Ben was born, and coupled with my classroom teaching experience, I thought I was ready to outdo the effects of Original Sin.

If you had asked me this straight-out, of course I would have rejected the assumption as preposterous.  Perfection?  Not this side of Heaven.  Of course.

Of course.

Of course?

Not so much.  Heck, I was afraid of putting Ben down so that I could turn over the laundry, lest I psychologically damage him.  So thought the woman completely and utterly and totally lacking psychological stability (at the time).

Hee hee hee.

That being said, I can name a few parenting resources I’ve found helpful.  In no particular order:

  • A series of talks about Catholicism and the Montessori method given by Montessori teacher Maggie Radzik.  The idea of the prepared environment saved our heinnies when Ben became mobile.  I can’t even imagine the number of battles we did NOT fight because we took greater care to prepare our home for him.  Talk One / Talk Two / Talk Three / Talk Four
  • Dr. Dan’s Last Word on Babies and Other Humans. My friend Beth gave me this book, and, ooh da lolly, what a great corrective to the uber-seriousness of many parenting Methods (with a capital M) out there.  Dr. Dan’s message could be summed up in two words: chill-lax and laugh.  I needed to read this book at the time.  Thank you, Beth.
  • Spirituality and the Twelve Stepsby Fr. Emmerich Vogt, O.P.  I know of no better practical wisdom out there, other than the Wisdom books of the Bible, than Twelve Step wisdom.  Fr. Emmerich Vogt takes that wisdom and shows how it finds its roots in historical Christian practice.  I love these talks and, though they aren’t strictly about parenting, I think they have a lot to offer parents.
  • Diaper-Free Before 3Now, I do not have a toilet-trained child in this house, but that’s because I did not follow the advice of this excellent book.  We did early training and had a lot of success until I tried to go no-holds-barred (not recommended) and he resisted.  He was excited to use it until I pushed too hard.  It’s been a battle ever since.

    Point being, I agree with the book’s premise that going in the potty is simply what we do.  The idea of “readiness” is misused to the point where kids (like mine) are in Size 6 diapers when, in most other countries around the world, they’ve been out of diapers for years. Knowing what I do now, I’m going to try again with Mimi when the timing seems right and see how it goes.  

    So that’s Diaper-Free.  It’s the one “how-to” book that I wholeheartedly agree with, even though *I* didn’t employ her wisdom correctly.

For further parenting advice, I rely on family and friends.   We all have people in our lives whose parenting skills—and kids—we admire.  I will turn to them before I think to turn to a book or (worse) the blogosphere.  Many books and blogs fail to bring me peace, and unless they come highly recommended, it’s hit-or-miss as to whether one will help or not.

So that’s that on parenting books and me.  How about you?


Off to a Good Start

After yesterday’s Life Planning Session (I hope you didn’t read it too terribly closely), I was determined to make a good start.

I was up at 5:30 a.m., which is not as early as my previous wake-up time of 4 a.m., but it was better than my more recent 8 a.m. wake-up call—i.e. getting up with the kids.  We all know how wonderfully getting up with the kids is (not).

Prayer and meditation until 6ish.  Then I started work on my novel.  Stopped around 6:40; showered, dressed.  Ate some food.  Put dishes away, cleaned the bathroom (!), wiped down the kitchen counters, started some laundry, and folded half a basket of clothes.  Fed some children somewhere in there, too.

By 9 o’clock and the arrival of my sitter, I was ready to go for my weekly long day of work.

I worked on my novel all morning.  ALL MORNING!  It felt great.  After lunch I worked on the novel for another 30 minutes or so before switching to Dappled Things (finishing touches on the next issue, woo hoo!).  15 minutes, there.  Email, then Real Housekeeping stuff.  And now here.  12 minutes more to go before time is up.

I doubt I would have worked so long or so well on the novel had I not gotten up this morning.  And tonight will be less stressful because I did my chores this morning.

Lesson learned:  Keep asking my Guardian Angel to wake me up in the morning.

I am writing.  Amen.  Alleluia.


Life Planning Session (Because We All Know How Well Our ‘Best Laid Plans’ Go)

Before I begin this stream-of-consciousness ramble/organizational session/why-am-I-sharing-this personal post… a poem:

To a Mouse
Robert Burns
(audio version here)

Wee, sleekit, cowran, tim’rous beastie,
O, what panic’s in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi’ bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee,
Wi’ murd’ring pattle!

I’m truly sorry Man’s dominion
Has broken Nature’s social union,
An’ justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle,
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An’ fellow-mortal!

I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen-icker in a thrave
‘S a sma’ request
I’ll get a blessin wi’ the lave,
An’ never miss’t!

Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
It’s silly wa’s the win’s are strewin!
An’ naething, now, to big a new ane,
O’ foggage green!
An’ bleak December’s winds ensuin,
Baith snell an’ keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an’ wast,
An’ weary Winter comin fast,
An’ cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro’ thy cell.

That wee-bit heap o’ leaves an’ stibble,
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou’s turn’d out, for a’ thy trouble,
But house or hald.
To thole the Winter’s sleety dribble,
An’ cranreuch cauld!

But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men,
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

Still, thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me!
The present only toucheth thee
But Och! I backward cast my e’e,
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!

Och! I, too, backward cast my e’e, and forward, tho’ I canna see.  I am not foolish enough to believe (anymore) that my life operates by my “best laid schemes”—no, life can only be lived one minute, hour, and day at a time.  My good intentions are nothing unless I choose to live out those intentions, now.

That being said, I’ve been in need of a life planning session.  And what better way to do it than write a blog post?

Commence the meandering babbling and gossamer strings that form the inside of my world.  Now’s your chance to exit the premises.

Really.  I mean it.

Still here?

Aaaaalrighty, then.  You may stay.  But don’t say I didn’t warn you. Continue reading

Anything but Supermom: The Beginning

Charity over at The Wounded Dove is hosting a new link-up called Confessions of a Good-Enough Mom, which I learned about from my awesome RH lady, Cristina.

I’m all over that link-up.

Since Charity shared her story about her first few weeks of motherhood, I will do the same.

Benedict First Week 010

Perfectionism, thou art my middle name.  And like Charity, I spent a good deal of time reading Ida May Gaskin and registering for cloth diapers.  And prepping cloth diapers.  And folding cloth diapers.  Because, you know, we got to do this whole parenting thing right.  Right?

Labor and delivery?  Awesome.  Eight hour labor, no back labor, loving husband coaching me through natural childbirth at a hippie-dippie Oregon birth center.  Love Oregon.  Cloth diapering? Great.  No issues there.

Nursing? Bonding?  PPD?


Day Two RestingI hadn’t understood the importance of bonding until Mimi came along and had something which to compare Babymoon #1.  Ben and I had a rough start.  Nursing and snuggling were overwhelming for him, and I was such a train wreck that I didn’t have the wherewithal to enjoy my new baby.

Knowing what we do now about Ben and myself, it’s understandable… but understanding something in hindsight doesn’t make the experience any less challenging or painful.  We struggled to bond, and I still struggle to forgive myself for circumstances outside my control.

Yet, without the difficulties of our first babymoon, I would have never hit the rock bottom that brought me to my knees before Christ, seeking help. My life has been transformed—radically so—and for that, I’m grateful.

As I’ve become healthier, the emotional bond with my son is strengthening.  Before Mimi was born, Ben and I had a sort of “second Babymoon”: we went everywhere, did everything, and enjoyed plenty of snuggles.  I wanted us to enjoy the last little bit of just the two of us as much as possible.

Our second Babymoon was a time of healing. No matter how rough the start, things can always get better.  And they did, and they have.




Join the rest of the Good Enough Moms at The Wounded Dove.


Not the Sweet Little Mushy-Gushy Holy Spirit Dove

Imagine the Holy Spirit as a dove.

Does your imagination produce this:

Search results for "holy spirit dove."

Search results for “holy spirit dove.”

or this:

Search results for "crucifixion."

Search results for “crucifixion.”


But, but, but… that’s not a dove!  That’s Jesus crucified!

I know.  I never put the two together, either.  When I think of the Holy Spirit dove, I think of… oh, I don’t know, lovey-dovey-rays-of-warm-fuzzies in my heart-heart-heart.  But apparently that’s—EEEEEEHHHH! (that’s a buzzer)—-wrong.

From Ven. Fulton Sheen’s Life of Christ:

The Spirit of God never appears in the figure of a Dove anywhere save here [the Baptism of Our Lord]… When the mother of Our Lord brought Him to the temple, her offering was a dove.  The dove was the symbol of gentleness and peacefulness, but above all it was the type of sacrifice possible to the lowliest people. Whenever a Hebrew thought of a lamb or a dove, he immediately thought of a sacrifice for sin.  Therefore, the Spirit descending upon Our Lord was for them a symbol of submission to sacrifice (59, emphasis mine).

Whaddamean, Fulton J. Sheen?  That our fuzzily-wuzzily light-beaming pop “art” of the Holy Spirit is not only gauche, but theologically lacking?



Oregon Nostalgia

Mary's Peak from 99W south of Corvallis.  Pinched from the internet.  I'm homesick.  Sue me.

Mary’s Peak from 99W south of Corvallis. Pinched from the internet. Sue me; I don’t care.  I’m homesick.

Mt. Jefferson. Also pinched.

Mt. Jefferson from Timberline Lodge. Also pinched. On a clear day we have a great view of Mt. Jefferson turning left from my parents’ street onto the main road (they live at the top of a hill).

McKenzie River.

McKenzie River. Also pinched.

North Falls, Silver Falls State Park.  Photo from Wikicommons.

North Falls, Silver Falls State Park. (Wikicommons)

Mount Angel Abbey.  Photo: Wikicommons.

Mount Angel Abbey. (Wikicommons)

Ben hiking in OSU's McDonald Research Forest (Peavy Arboritum)

Ben hiking in OSU’s McDonald Research Forest (Peavy Arboretum).  We did this 3 to 4 times a week when Ben was small. Our favorite trail was a 3 1/2 mile trail; Ben usually walked the last mile.

Beverly Beach.

Beverly Beach.  Coffee.  Very Oregon.

Sitting in his own folding chair.  11 months old.

Sitting in his own folding chair. 11 months old.

Walking toward the Pacific.

Walking toward the Pacific.

There he goes!

There he goes!

Stew of Resentment = Slavery

I spent yesterday simmering in a stew of resentment.

It doesn’t matter what or why I was simmering.  The fact of simmering is enough to know that I was in a bad place.

My mental track whilst in the stew falls along the lines of argument and self-justification.  The negative aspects of my choleric side come out and shine in all their ugly glory as the hamster wheel of I’m right and everyone else is wrong spins, spins, spins.

(Loving my metaphors this morning, by the way.)

Two realizations coming out of this:

1.  I am a sinner.

2.  Jesus Christ saves.

3.  There are people out there who spend their entire days and lives like this.

One day in the stew and I’m a miserable, closed-souled human being.  The stew is death.  I couldn’t imagine this being my normal.

And this is why we need evangelists.


Magnificent and Beautiful

“Christ is calling us and awakening in us a desire to make our lives something magnificent and beautiful.”

– St. John Paul II

John Paul II must have also been an INFJ, methinks.

Or maybe that’s me projecting myself on to him, only because I love-love-love this quote.

Who Is This Jesus?

Forming-Disciples-Final.002I finished Sherry Weddell’s Forming Intentional Disciples yesterday.

(Yes, I know I’m a little late on the gravy train here.  CatholicMom.com read this book last year for Lawn Chair Catechism.  Better late than never, right?)

If you haven’t read it, do.  Weddell’s reading of contemporary American Catholicism, grounded in both statistical evidence and personal experience as founder of the Catherine of Siena Institute, has changed my own understanding of why the flock is going astray.  Hint: it has little to do with “entertaining” Evangelical Protestant worship services—one cause I, for one, assumed to be true.

As I read, one thought circled over and again in my mind: Who is this Jesus?  Weddell’s driving point is that we are disciples of Jesus Christ in the heart of the Church.  Seems like a duh point, but as it turns out, many, many, MANY Catholics don’t believe in a personal God with whom one can have a relationship.

Even if they attend Mass regularly, they do so as passive, rather than active, disciples of Christ.  To say explicitly that one “follows Jesus”—and to encourage others to do the same—is verboten.  It’s too Protestant.  And God forbid we be like those Protestants.

This, Weddell says, results in a suffocating silence in our parishes. The community that ought to be fostering discipleship instead threatens our evangelical spirit.  We fail at helping adult Christians grow in their life of following Jesus.

It’s strange.  When I joined the Church, it was the result of wanting to know Jesus better One would think that being an Evangelical would have ensured my knowing Christ.  It’s not that I didn’t know him, but that I didn’t know him well.  I’d say I followed the Bible more than I followed Christ, if that makes any sense.  I spent more time reading Isaiah or St. Paul (all well and good) instead of reading Our Lord’s words.

When I attended my first Easter Vigil in order to watch my friend Missy receive the Sacraments, I was struck by how much Catholics talk about Jesus.  The Gospel is proclaimed every Mass.  The Mass is the Eucharist (and the Eucharist is Him), its prayers almost entirely the words of Our Lord and the words of Scripture.  And in front of us, behind the altar, was a huge (sort of cartoonish, but still) crucifix with HIM.  He was everywhere and in everything.

Some Catholics may be surprised by this, but I was struck by how much more Scripture I heard in Mass than I ever did in an evangelical service.  Protestants tout their love of Scripture, but the plain fact is that Catholics hear more of it.  Furthermore, they hear the words of the Second Person of the Trinity far more than I ever did as an evangelical.

When I was a Protestant, my concept of God was vague.  While I would have never said this, my prayers mainly amounted to an appeal to a sort of personal-God-life-force whose Presence was somehow enmeshed in the state of my feelings.

But Our Lord became incarnate so that we might see the face of the Father.  He took pity on our need of concrete tangibles.  He had to be more than my vagaries and feelings.

Wanting to know Jesus was the driving force behind my conversion.

That being said, the Catholic suffocating silence does exist. Being in a parish now that suffers that silence, I feel it and I’ve responded to it.  It weighs me down.  What’s worse is that I haven’t done well fighting back.

I’ve allowed myself to fall into a sort of my own status quo of theoretical faith, the faith of assent, while my active discipleship wanes.  (Seeing this, it’s no wonder that my behavior of late has been of the “crazy lady” variety.  I’ve been acting in ways I haven’t acted in a long time.)

So I’m part of the problem.

I’m ready and willing to change.  As Father said to my in Confession this past Saturday, God “is chomping at the bit” to kindle the flame of faith within me.  But spiritual sloth is sticky and hard to shed.  I’m most definitely in need of grace.