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


Our Backyard Friend and Other Instagrams
February 27, 2012, 3:07 pm
Filed under: Children

Benjamin ran into the bedroom while I was changing Lucy to tell me with eyes as big as saucers, “I looked out the window and GUESS WHAT I SAW?! AN OWL!!! A BIG ‘OL OWL!” Sometimes Benjamin makes up little animal tales like, “Mama, a little kitty cat is coming to visit you!” so I’m never sure exactly what’s really happening. But he was VERY excited so I ran to the window and sure enough: giant owl. Benjamin told me, “At first I thought he was STUFFED because he was so STILL! But then he MOVED!”  It was all very exciting.

Benjamin looks so much like his uncle in this one. We’ve been going through some “terrible threes” with this little guy. We’re trying some new approaches to discipline. Time outs haven’t been very effective lately so I started taking away one of the stuffed animals from his menagerie on his bed when he is whining, talking back, or disobeying. Any advice on how to deal with the threes? Benjamin was really very sweet during the twos so these challenges are pretty new to us…and a little exhausting.

And this little girl is still sweet as pie. She is always squealing with joy. Almost 15 lbs and I’m loving her chubbiness! She just started rolling over consistently this week. Benjamin rolled over super super early but Lucy is so delightfully laid back. I think she’s going to take her time with everything. I can’t believe she’s already 4 months. I am so not looking forward to moving to solid foods–nursing her is just so easy. I’m definitely waiting until 6 months and maybe even later depending on her interest. Unfortunately, being sick recently really messed up her awesome sleeping habits and she’s now waking up 3-5 times a night. It’s a big bummer after getting spoiled with only waking up once, maybe twice a night. This mama is feeling pretty exhaustified.

And for less interesting news, I finally got my hair cut after months and months and dyed it red again, yay!

Oh, and I found a great deal for the National Geographic Little Kids Magazine that Benjamin LOVES to get in the mail. It’s usually $23 for a subscription but you can get it for $8 by using the code: NATGEOLK2. I think the deal is over tomorrow, though, so if you want to order it you should probably do it today. He gets so excited to receive mail just for him. It’s pretty cute.

I am loving having a healthy household after a lot of sleepless nights when everyone was sick!

 



Mardi Gras and Lent
February 26, 2012, 7:36 pm
Filed under: Fasting, Feasting, Lent, Mardi Gras

We had some of our new friends over on Fat Tuesday for a New Orleans Feast made by this guy:

On the menu was Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, Shrimp Dip and Homemade Bread, King Cake, and old timey New Orleans cocktails.

I’ll post the recipes on Feast! when Daniel has a minute to write them down.

Then Ash Wednesday came and we transitioned into Lent. Last year I was battling some serious morning sickness during Lent so I don’t feel like I fully engaged and I didn’t have the energy to figure out how to help Benjamin participate. So, trying to do better this year!

I bought a grapevine wreath to have on the dining room table to remind us of the Crown of Thorns and put our purple tablecloth on the table. Yes, my tablecloth is super wrinkly. Ironing is just one of those tasks that I try to avoid at all costs. I tell myself that it’s so humid in Florida that whatever item is wrinkly will unwrinkle soon enough on it’s own. This is not true, but it makes me feel better.

I borrowed (stole?) some deep purple fabric from my mom to use to cover the crosses and icons in the house. I let Benjamin walk through the house to find all the crosses over the doorways and help me wrap them in purple.

I’ve seen so many ideas for helping little ones observe Lent that I feel pretty overwhelmed. What do you do at your house? What’s your very favorite Lenten activity for littles?

p.s. Mandy are you out there? Send me an email about winning the Pride and Prejudice Giveaway before next Wednesday or I’ll have to choose another winner! (my email is haley.s.stewart(at)gmail(dot)com)



Giveaway Winner!
February 23, 2012, 3:08 pm
Filed under: Giveaway

….and the winner of the clothbound Penguin Classic edition of Pride and Prejudice giveaway is……..

Comment #27: Mandy!

Mandy, shoot me an email with your address and I’ll have a copy sent to you from Amazon. (haley.s.stewart(at)gmail(dot)com)

I hope everyone had a wonderful Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday!



The Big Ol’ Catholic Reading List
February 21, 2012, 4:15 pm
Filed under: Books, Husband, Prayers, Rosary, Saints | Tags: , , , ,

Ok, so it’s not that big and it’s definitely not in the ballpark of comprehensive (would that even be possible?). But, in response to a reader’s request for resources on Catholic teaching, Catholic motherhood, Catholic blogs, and books that influenced our decision to convert, here’s…well, something. It’s off the top of my head with a couple suggestions and notes from Daniel. I would LOVE your suggestions and recommendations for additions!

CATHOLIC TEACHING/CATHOLIC THOUGHT:

(Daniel’s note regarding recommended reading for Catholic thought that also influenced our conversion:

“Read the Church Fathers, beginning with Ignatius of Antioch. Before I was Catholic, I thought that the Protestant Reformation was necessary because of a steady decline that had taken place in the Church from its very beginning. I thought that everything would be great if we could just get back to the Early Church. But I figured we just didn’t have a record of that time. Turns out, we do. Ignatius of Antioch lived in the first century and was martyred in the beginning of the second so his writing held a lot of weight with me. When I read his letters, I was quite surprised by what I found. Over and over again, he emphasizes loyalty to the bishops; an idea that was totally foreign to me. He spoke of the Church as a single organization with a hierarchy and chain of command. He also spoke of the Eucharist with great reverence and called it the ‘medicine of immortality.’

Continuing through the centuries… St. Augustine, St. Maximus the Confessor, St. Anselm. With these guys, it wasn’t so much a particular argument they made that drew me to the church. Instead, it was the continuity that exists over the centuries in their writings. This flew in the face of my idea that there was a ‘falling away’ from the truth. Quite the opposite, their was unbroken consistency of thought and teaching that existed from the early church all the way up to the contemporary Catholic Church. Maximus emphasizes this continuity (albeit in the 7th century).”)

A good place to start is with The Epistles of St. Clement of Rome and St. Ignatius of Antioch. There’s a good Paulist Press edition. Also worth reading are: The Prayers and Meditations of St. Anselm, Confessions or the Enchiridion on Faith, Hope, and Love of St. Augustine, and Selected Writings of Maximus Confessor.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church—doesn’t get much better than this. Confession: I haven’t read the whole thing. Maybe remedying that should (obviously?) be one of my Lenten devotions.

Signs of Life by Scott Hahn—Daniel and I read this together during Lent two years ago. There are 40 chapters so it’s perfect for lenten reading.  Dr. Hahn is also a convert and this book is a beautiful introduction to Catholic sacraments, sacramentals, and practices. Hahn includes many, many Scripture references in his chapters which is always helpful to those of us coming from a Protestant background.

Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton—Just awesome. Everything Chesterton writes is delightfully funny and painfully true.

On Being Catholic by Thomas Howard: Written by a convert, this book explains facets of the Catholic faith and Catholic worldview and dispells minunderstandings of the Catholic faith that might arise coming from a Protestant worldview.

On Loving God by St. Bernard of Clairvaux—Following in the footsteps of St. Augustine, this medieval saint writes beautifully. I am a medievalist at heart and I just love St. Bernard. Here’s an example: “Faith certainly bids me love him all the more whom I regard as that much greater than I, for he not only gives me myself, he also gives me himself.”

Why Do Catholics Eat Fish on Friday?: The Catholic Origin to Just About Everything by Michael P. Foley—Written by one of our Baylor profs, this is a delightful read.

And if you’re up for something dense but amazing—any of the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas.

CONVERSIONS:

Return to Rome by Francis Beckwith—Dr. Beckwith’s story of his reversion to Catholicism after becoming Protestant and being President of the Evangelical Theological Society.

Crossing the Tiber by Stephen RayPart I is his conversion story from Protestantism and Parts II and III are on Baptism and the Holy Eucharist.

Confessions by St. Augustine—the ultimate conversion story.

The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton—Another good conversion story highlighting the working of God’s grace guiding us, even when we are unaware.

Apologia Pro Vita Sua by the Blessed John Henry Newman—The spiritual autobiography of a former Anglican. Confession: I haven’t read this one, but Daniel really liked it.

CATHOLIC PRAYER AND DEVOTION:

St. Benedict’s Prayer Book—We love using this for morning and evening prayer for our family.

An Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales—Exhortations to holiness through prayer and examination of conscience by a wonderful saint of the Church.

The Rosary: Keeping Company with Jesus and Mary by Karen Edmisten—Fantastic introduction to praying the Rosary. I’ve read it twice and it has helped me make the Rosary a frequent and familiar devotion in my spiritual life.

MOTHERHOOD:

Familiaris Consortio, Encyclical by the Blessed Pope John Paul II: This one definitely falls into the category of Catholic teaching but has much to say on motherhood and the family in modern life. I’m more than halfway through and loving it.

HAGIOGRAPHY:

Catherine of Siena by Sigrid Undset—Well-researched and beautifully written biography of St. Catherine of Siena by Sigrid Undset, another fellow convert to Catholicism.

Saint Thomas Aquinas, “The Dumb Ox” by G.K. Chesterton—Nobody writes biography as delightfully as Chesterton. A wonderful introduction to this great saint.

FICTION:

ANYTHING written by Flannery O’Connor. My favorite is The Violent Bear It Away.

(Daniel’s note: “This is hard to explain. Perhaps it was that she was a Southern author writing about the South. I guess she was able to translate her Catholicism into the language of my Southern Protestantism. I can’t really put my finger on it. Obviously, the sacraments are a huge part of her work, even when they are slightly hidden. There is a kind of radicalism in her stories that makes sense to me and I think is a core part of the Gospel message. There is a totality to it that I think is clearly shown in Catholic theology. She also helped me see that some of my objections to the Catholic Church were actually rooted in my modern, materialist perspective and not really in anything biblical.”) Warning: If you’ve never lived in the South…these works will be just about impossible to understand.

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh: THE 20th Century Catholic Novel. Wickedly funny and full of heartbreaking truth, Brideshead follows the working of God’s grace in the aristocratic Flyte family through the eyes of their friend Charles Ryder. I read it every year and the characters have become beloved companions. I can’t explain why, but I think this book influenced me to become Catholic more than any other.

Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset: I’ve written about how much I love this saga before—how often do you find good medieval historical fiction? Kristin’s spiritual journey chronicled throughout the books is complex, beautiful, and worth reading.

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (Daniel’s note: “I guess this is hard to explain, too. Maybe part of it was that I absolutely loved Tolkien and his worldview. So the fact that he was Catholic made me see Catholicism in a more positive light. There are also a lot of sacraments in his work. The Eucharist shows up all the time.”)

FAVORITE BLOGS BY CATHOLIC MOTHERS:

Karen Edmisten

Simcha Fisher

Elizabeth Foss

Kate Wicker

Kitchen Stewardship

Waltzing Matilda

CATHOLIC FOOD BLOGS:

Catholic Cuisine: Helpful in seeing what’s coming up in the liturgical year and has some wonderful ideas. Warning: most of the recipes are for cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and other desserts made of white flour and sugar. Rarely is there a recipe that isn’t full of processed ingredients and tons of sugar, so there isn’t much that I actually want to cook for my family.

Feast!: Our Seasonal, Real Foods, Christian Year Celebrating (and very neglected) food blog.

What are your suggestions for MUST-READ books and resources on Catholic faith?

(p.s. Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a copy of the clothbound Penguin classic edition of Pride and Prejudice! It ends tomorrow at noon!)



This Week’s Miscellany: Vol. 6

(Don’t forget to enter my giveaway: A Beautiful Clothbound Penguin Edition of Pride and Prejudice!)

Coming up in the Liturgical Year: Mardi Gras, Ash Wednesday, Lent! I didn’t realize that THIS WEDNESDAY will be Ash Wednesday until yesterday! We’re having some friends over to celebrate Fat Tuesday (King Cake, and Cajun food!) and I need to decide what I’m giving up for Lent. In the past I’ve given up coffee, sweets, and Facebook. This year I think I will give something up and add daily Mass or daily Rosary. What are you giving up? Karen Edmisten has a great compilation post of all her lenten posts including some great ideas about observing Lent with little ones. I definitely want to implement some of that with Benjamin this year.

Listening to: Bon Iver. I just keep coming back to the album released last year. It. Is. Just. So. Good.

Links:

I Wore the Same T-shirt Every Day for 1 Year (and why it doesn’t matter): Our dear friend Nathan writes eloquently about his sartorial experiment. I, for one, never noticed that he wore the same outfit every day (he did have multiples of the same shirt for washing purposes). His thoughtful post inspired me to pare down my closet. One of my struggles is worrying too much about how others perceive me and Nathan post really encouraged me to just be myself. I wonder how I could do something similar as my lenten discipline. Thoughts?

Keeping Coming Back to It: Simcha Fisher, one of my favorite Catholic bloggers, writes about marriage. Great post.

Divide and Conquer: George Weigel writes about the current administration, Catholics, and the HHS mandate.

Pictures Worth Sharing:

 

While Baby Girl and I were recovering from illness (she was such a sweet, happy girl even when she was sick!), Little Bear stayed busy doing art projects and watching way too many episodes of “Mighty Machines.” Lets focus on the art projects, shall we?

Little Bear titled this masterpiece: “Bobcat in a Tree”

And all week long, Daddy took care of everyone. Seriously. Best husband and dad ever. I’m so glad he didn’t get sick, too!

The Quotable Benjamin:

“Mama, you hid all my Valentine’s candy! I’m gonna start callin’ you ‘Sneaky Sue’!”

“Mama, get your yarn out of my face. I mean, get your hair out of my face.”

 



GIVEAWAY! (NOW CLOSED): Penguin Clothbound Edition of Pride and Prejudice
February 15, 2012, 4:56 pm
Filed under: Books, Children, Giveaway, Health | Tags: , , ,

Well, it’s high time for a giveaway! Due to the flu bug hitting our house, Lucy getting pneumonia, and Benjamin having asthma attacks…it’s been a pretty lousy past few days. We’re still kind of under the weather and Lucy is still coughing, but I think we are at least on the mend. But wow, with two sick kids and a sick mama…mark down yesterday as a big, fat mothering fail that included tears, desperate threats, and hollering. Apparently, I’m not great at handling a 3-year-old asthmatic wired from albuterol and prednisone, worry about my sweet baby girl (how scary is the word “pneumonia”!), and tending to the two of them while muddling though the day with my flu symptoms. I need a little fun today so…..giveaway? Yes.

Everybody needs one of the beautiful clothbound Penguin classics editions of Miss Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, amirite?

I am completely obsessed with these gorgeous clothbound classics. I talk about them all the time. My in-laws gifted me several for my 26th birthday and I have them all on a pretty shelf in the bedroom. I love that when Lucy reads Miss Austen for the first time, she’ll be reading such a lovely edition. And since I have such wonderful readers, I want to share my love for Austen and these Penguin Classics by doing a giveaway and sending a copy of Pride and Prejudice to a lucky reader.

So, here’s the drill: subscribe to Carrots for Michaelmas via email or an RSS reader and then leave a comment to say you did. If you’re already a subscriber, leave a comment letting me know. For a second entry, leave an additional comment telling me which Austen novel is your favorite and why. For a third entry, share this giveaway on Facebook (you can use the FB “like” button at the bottom of the post under “share it”) and leave an additional comment letting me know that you did. For a fourth entry, you can link to this giveaway on your blog and remember to leave an additional comment telling me you did. Be sure to include an email address or blog where I can reach you if you win! I can only ship the giveaway prize to readers in the continental US. Giveaway ends next Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012 at 12pm EST. I will use a random number generator to choose a winner. Giveaway will be announced soon after it closes and I will probably have a book sent to the winner directly from Amazon.

Disclosure: I am in no way affiliated with Amazon.com, Penguin, or (unfortunately) Miss Jane Austen (unless being a fanatical admirer counts). I just like giveaways and saying thank you to my dear readers!

p.s. Does anyone use the Amazon affiliate program on their blog? Do you like it? How does it work?

WINNER IS: MANDY (COMMENT 27)!



February 14, 2012, 2:54 pm
Filed under: Misc

We’re not very good at Valentine’s Day (especially not when 3/4 of our household is sick) but we do love each other an awful lot. Here’s a repost of Our Love Story. Here’s the first part and you can read parts two and three from the link at the bottom of the post.

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

Last week: “I can’t imagine you being married to anyone other than Daniel. It is such a joy to know you are with such a good and wonderful man.” –My Dad

9 Years Ago: “I don’t want you to ever see that boy again. He is a freak.” – My Dad

As we are celebrating our FIFTH(!) anniversary this Saturday, I thought a few posts about our love story might be fun this week…

I was 15. I knew I liked Daniel immediately after meeting him. We had a mutual friend, Elizabeth, who introduced us and I was instantly smitten. We saw each other at various functions and occasionally talked over instant messenger (how 2002 of us!). I was quite fascinated by him. He could discuss books and ideas. He actually had opinions, some of which were very different from my own, and he could talk about them intelligently and…

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