Carrots for Michaelmas: Musings of a Catholic Wife, Mother, and Occasional Redhead

September 2011 Reads
September 3, 2011, 2:25 pm
Filed under: Books, Films, Pregnancy, Saints

I’m trying to put my feet up and read and relax whenever I get the chance these days. I can tell that my body is already gearing up for Baby Lucy’s arrival. On Thursday, after a 45 min. drive to GA, three hours of back-to-back teaching little ballerinas, and a 45 min. drive home, I started having TONS of Braxton-Hicks. I didn’t get out a watch to time them but we estimated that they were lasting about 10 seconds and coming every 2-3 minutes. After rehydrating with several glasses of water, eating a delicious dinner made by our housemates, and drinking a glass of red wine while relaxing in the bath tub, they went away and haven’t been back since. Sounds like I got dehydrated and over did it. I’ll be more careful next week. But I’ve have a premonition during the whole pregnancy that Baby Lucy is going to come a little bit early…now watch me be totally wrong and still waddling on November 1st. I do finally have a sense of “this is really happening!”

Anyhow, books. I finished Sigrid Undset’s Catherine of Siena and completely loved it. I wish there was a hagiography as wonderful for all the saints I want to learn about. Undset is a wonderful writer and a devout Catholic convert. The book is delightful and inspiring. Now I’m motivated to read the third book to finish the Kristin Lavransdatter saga, by Undset. Anybody have good recommendations about other books about saints?

I also finished Kathleen Norris’ The Cloister Walk, but mostly out of a drive to complete it and put it away rather than because I enjoyed it. I have to admit that I didn’t really like it. I discussed it briefly with my mom who read it many years ago and my conclusion was that Norris is more interested in the aesthetics of the Christian tradition for therapeutic purposes than in the actual pursuit of holiness under the authority of the Church. And she came across as rather smug most of the time which started to grate on me. The upside was that whenever I brought out the book Daniel starting singing, “Just a cloister walk with thee…”

I absolutely LOVED Beth Ann Fennelly’s Great with Child that my new friend Helen gave to me. A beautiful poetic collection of letters from Fennelly to a young expectant mother full of breathtaking reflections on pregnancy, miscarriage, and motherhood. I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising that it’s so poetic since Fennelly is, well, a poet. Loved it, loved it, loved it and passed it on to a pregnant friend.

I started re-reading St. Francis de Sales Introduction to the Devout Life during my weekly Holy Hour (our parish has Perpetual Adoration and Daniel and I recently have entered into the grace of a weekly hour with Jesus). I haven’t read it since becoming Catholic and just read it for a college class maybe 5 years ago. It’s interesting to see the notes I wrote in the margins a couple of years before we even starting considering becoming Catholic. St. Francis de Sales starts out explaining how important the Sacrament of Reconciliation is and I must have been persuaded by him because I wrote: “GO TO CONFESSION” on one of the first pages.

I started reading Susan Wise Bauer’s The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had. Although, I think my years in Baylor’s Great Texts and University Scholars programs were incredible and really gave me an amazing foundation, there’s so much more I want to read! Bauer starts the book explaining how to attempt tackling the great books outside of a classroom setting. I’ve read the beginning material and am ready to move into one of the “book list” sections. Bauer recommends starting with the list of novels but I’m going to start with the poetry section because I think that’s my weakest area. Who’s ready to tackle the Epic of Gilgamesh with me?

Benjamin is suddenly very interested in “reading” not just being read to. He loves to tell you what letters comprise a word and there’s a few words that he’s starting to recognize like “truck” and “dog.” I’m just trying to let him take the lead on this and engage his little mind when he brings books to “read” to me. Since he’s so interested right now, I’ve considered exploring one letter a week and practicing recognizing it, writing it, and emphasizing words that start with it through food and animals, etc. Thoughts? Is he too young for that? I don’t want it to feel like work.

One of his all-time favorite books is Wee Gillis by Monro Leaf given to him by our dear friend Emily. It’s an older book but absolutely delightful about a little boy in Scotland. The boy’s full name is “Alastair Roderic Craigellachie Dalhousie Gowan Donnybristle Mac Mac” and Benjamin loves to say the whole name and then laugh hysterically.

I also started reading a chapter book to him at night sometimes: Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House in the Big Woods. It’s not a girlie book, I promise! We’re three or four chapters in and most of it has been about Pa Ingalls smoking pork, making bullets, and shooting bears. Some nights he’s very interested other nights, not so much, so I’m giving it a rest for a month or so and we’ll give it a try then. I know it’s a stretch for a little guy but it has lots of pictures and he does talk about it often so I know he’s comprehending some of it.

And now another recommendation but not a book. Just watched Return to Cranford this week which was delightful. Cranford, the adaption of Elizabeth Gaskell stories is fantastic and if you love a good period miniseries, then this will be right up your alley. What’s your favorite miniseries? I watched North and South when I was in early labor with Benjamin and want something in that line to pass the time if early labor with Lucy.

If you haven’t entered my GIVEAWAY (all-natural handmade goat’s milk soap!), do it now! Giveaway closes tonight at midnight. C’mon guys, free soap!

In other news, we still haven’t completely settled on a middle name for Lucy. Accepting suggestions now.

9 Comments so far
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Benjamin! Reading a bit already! Wow! I’d say don’t bombard him, which you aren’t, and do things as long as he is interested. Let him lead and have fun.

I like SWB. I’m definitely going to give that book a look.

We’re just now picking Eleonora’s complete name…Her name is Eleonora Plumbago, but we’ve vacillated on her third name. I think we’re finished, and it’s good, because our goal is to finish before she is one. (She’s 9 months old, that little giggly monkey!) Maris is the one, finally, finally, finally.

I’m so glad you three are enjoying your housemates. Almost four!

What is Benjamin’s middle name?

Comment by Amy

I LOVE Maris. We really like Stellamaris (star of the sea) as a middle name someday. Not this time though. Say, “Lucy Stellamaris Stewart” out loud. So many “s” sounds!

Benjamin’s middle name is Daniel after his daddy 🙂

Lately we really like Lucy Magnolia, Lucy Marigold, and Lucy Bernadette. I’m partial to Lucy Marigold. Benjamin is partial to Lucy Magnolia, and Daniel likes Lucy Bernadette. Dilemma!

Comment by carrotsformichaelmas

I say go with it when it comes to reading. It’s never too young, and you can always pull back if he gets frustrated or you get overwhelmed. I think letter weeks would be fun. You can incorporate all sorts of fun things that have to do with that letter in addition to writing it, painting it, drawing it in the dirt, whatever. What a fun stage!
Lucy Adele
Lucy Catherine
Lucy Jane
Lucy Chamile

Comment by katryna

Oh fun. Adele is lovely. I really like Catherine as a middle name after finding out St. Catherine is so cool, but I think I’ll save it for if/when we get another girl and do a more unusual first name. I actually had Lucy Camille on the list for awhile! Doesn’t it sound SUPER southern?

Comment by carrotsformichaelmas

Oh, I LIKE Lucy Marigold.

All 3 are wonderful, (Zach actually loves Bernadette, he’s brought it up over and over, and the other two were first names I liked), but I’m partial to the Marigold.

You could call her Goldy! Well, if you wanted.

Comment by Amy

“Lucy Bernadette:” That name captivates me: it is lovely yet strong and contains substance and history: the essence of a life of faith and virtue.

Comment by Margot Payne

Wow, what a big boy! Can I ask what you do with Benjamin whenever you read to him? Do you point out the letters to him and he kind of catches on? Jax loves to read and we do it often, and he’s gotten to where he’ll move his finger along the words and mumble nonsense like he’s reading lol! So I’m wondering if now I should start introducing individual letters to him or kind of let him figure it out? He just turned 18 months and I feel like he’s catching on to so much all of a sudden! 🙂

Comment by Jeni

I think he started catching onto letters when we got alphabet bath toys. He was just really into them and would ask us what each letter was called and then really liked to tell us what they were called. I think that got him started and then he noticed the same letters in books. Naming the letters felt like a bathtime game which I think is crucial. As long as Jax seems interested and it’s fun to him, then go for it! I always try to back off when Benjamin loses interest for awhile so that it never feels like a chore. It’s been way too long since I’ve seen Jax! Playdate sometime!

Comment by carrotsformichaelmas

Yes! We must playdate soon! Jax is finally at the age where he can run around and he’s absolutely enthralled with other kids. Maybe early one Sunday morning when it’s still cool outside we can get the boys together.

Comment by Jeni

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