Life and Death. Lent and Easter.

Alex's dad died on November 10th of last year.

On November 11th I took a pregnancy test.

It was positive.

Walking into our bedroom while it was still dark, flicking on the lamp, and showing Alex that positive pregnancy test - the day after his dad died - was a little less than God parting the clouds and bending down to look us straight in the eyes and say, "yes there is death, but it's not the end. I also bring life."

We were not "trying" for this baby. Not like with the other two, where we tried for months in one case and years in the other. But we are open to life, and that means you accept it when it comes, whether it's a good time or not. By worldly standards this was not a great time to be having another baby. We already have two young kids who still have all the needs of young kids, plus the unique needs of a kid with hearing loss and other chronic health problems. Alex was still in school, about to graduate with the student dept he had amassed over the last couple of years, and as of that time no job lined up to pay it off.

But in one very important way it was the perfect time for a new baby.

I believe it is no coincidence that while we were grieving the first big family loss that either of us had experienced, we got our first surprise baby. It was as though I were hearing it for the first time - God alone is the author of life and death. Sometimes we're able to trick ourselves into thinking we're in control, but really, none of this is up to us. And when it seems like we are surrounded by death, He gives signs of life, a small foretaste of the Everlasting Life that He offers us.

It's now four months later. We are in the middle of Lent. I normally love the season of Lent, but not this year. I've had enough of sorrows. It's cold, it's dark, my body is in varying but constant levels of pain from carrying this child. Extreme exhaustion, the unrelenting demands of parenting and work, and a winter that never seems to end leave me feeling a little bit dead inside. I look out my window and see the decay of last year's garden poking out from under the snow in my backyard. I long for signs of life.

Then I feel the kick against my ribs. I see a patch of grass where the snow is slowly receding. I look at my calendar and see that Easter is only two weeks away.

Signs of life. Reminders that He is as faithful as the changing of seasons.

Spring after winter. Easter after Lent. Life after death.

Songs for Chilly Days // A Playlist

I think this has been an exceptional year for fall foliage. When I look out my kitchen window I see several tall trees towering over the houses on the block behind us. Over the last couple of weeks I have the great pleasure of watching them go from green, to yellow, to orange. It makes washing dishes and prepping dinners a lot happier than those tasks might otherwise be. Any reminder that the world is a beautiful place is a good thing.

The trees that line our street couldn't be any prettier than if someone had painted them. They really do look like someone planted them with their fall colors in mind. A red tree, next to a yellow tree, then orange and green, and the pattern repeats itself for blocks. It's been a beautiful autumn and we have been out in it as much as possible.

But not today. Today I can see the snow out my window, not just falling down, but blowing sideways, and I can hear the gusts shake the house and rattle the windows. The tea kettle is on the stove, and I'm feeling more than content to stay inside. Today is a day for hot tea, wool socks, and cozy blankets. And, of course, songs to fit the mood.

I hope you enjoy this cozy playlist, and I hope you are staying snug and warm.

Spring Always Comes

I put on my husband's parka this morning and ran out in the pale light to set the recycling on the curb. My slippers shattered ice crystals that had formed on the steps over night and I could see my breath in front of me. But the air on my face didn't feel cold, it felt refreshing  a welcome breath of life.  As I walked back up our sidewalk I saw the green leaves of our day lilies sprouting out of the ground, pushing up through the dead leaves of last fall. And I realized, spring is coming!

There has been a winter in my soul. I think it has to do with the craziness of life right now. Grad school, running my studio, two babies, a million appointments, feeling like there is no time for quiet reflection, no time to spend with my husband, no time to take care of myself. We've been in survival mode for far too many months.

I think it also comes from attitudes I can't let go of. A sense of entitlement when things don't go my way. A lack of charity because, your life couldn't possibly be as difficult as mine. A lack of patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control, all that good fruit that is so hard to cultivate.

I have not been feeling the consolation of the Holy Spirit that I so long to feel. I'm sure some of it is me  I'm not growing my prayer life the way that I should be. Mass is an exercise in creative toddler bribing. Spiritual reading is what I do when I can't fall asleep because, well, it gets the job done. But I think some of it is also that I am no longer a child at camp. I'm not going to have a mountain top experience every time I sing a song of praise or quiet my heart in prayer, but that doesn't mean I should stop praying and praising.

The Holy Spirit is still moving in my heart, even though I can't always feel it.

The green leaves are pushing their way up through cracked, dry dirt, and dead leaves, long before  they make their way to the surface.

Spring is coming, just like it came last year, just like it comes after every winter. Just like morning comes after every night. Just like Easter comes after every Good Friday.


post script:

The last couple of times I've posted something melancholic I've had friends check in with me to see if I'm ok.  I just want to let you know that I'm fine. Life is a bit stressful, and some days get a little crazy, but writing about it is one of the ways I process and relax. So thanks for reading, and caring. 

giving up my anger

Oh, hello Lent!

I almost forgot you were here earlier today when I found a piece and candy in my coat pocket. I did a mental fist-pump, said "score" to myself and was just about to unwrap the little beauty before I remembered my resolve to mortify my flesh for 40 days by denying it the sweets it most constantly craves.

I've been indulging some pretty bad eating habits all in the name of Postpartum and Breastfeeding, and made a plan a few weeks ago to use Lent as an opportunity to reset. You see, my resolve to diet and lose weight is so weak that I can't manage it at all without the help of Catholic Guilt.

 But I know that Lenten Dieting is almost as bad as Missionary Dating (I tried that too once, and ended up being the one to convert. Oops!) so when I read Pope Francis's appeal to give up more than candy and booze I said, "don't worry Papa, I'm all over it."

You see, I've also been indulging in some pretty bad temper tantrums lately, all with the excuse that My Life Is Hard and I'm Entitled To Get Angry.


It takes me, no joke, 20 minutes to leave the house with my two children. Someone will invariably poop and require a new set of drawers. Then Johnny will have a freak out about getting his coat on because it means he has to put down his car for 2 seconds. Then Johnny will poke Trixie in the face while I'm getting my coat on and she will need some comforting.  Then I will realize there are no diapers in the diaper bag. Then I can't find my keys. All the while the decibel level of my voice is soaring to new heights as I give vent to my frustrations.

And I deserve to get mad.

When Trixie is on her fifth night feeding, I deserve to get mad.

When my husband has to study all day Saturday and Sunday, I deserve to get mad.

When Johnny refuses to nap, I really deserve to get mad.

And you know what? I like getting mad.  I like my righteous indignation because it makes me feel like I am the victim, I'm the one who deserves justice, I'm right when everyone else in the world is wrong. And I'm going to get angry about it. What else could I do? NOT get angry?

Actually, I've known for a long time that I need to not get angry. That instead of giving into anger I need to practice the fruits of the Spirit. I've even had a little note card with the fruits of the Spirit printed on it hanging on my bathroom mirror for, oh I don't know, about a year. Needless to say, I still need some work.

So for Lent I am giving up my anger. And like a gentle "yes, this is good" from the Holy Spirit, I read these words in yesterday's first reading.

"Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God.
For gracious and merciful is he,
slow to anger, rich in kindness,
and relenting in punishment."

How patient and slow to anger has the Lord been with me? I am called to do the same with those around me, starting with my own family.

Anyone else feeling the need to give up more than candy and booze?


keep in touch!



30 before 30

Yesterday marked the beginning of the end of my 20's (read: I turned 29 yesterday). I always get very nostalgic over passing milestones and life chapters and things like that, so I'm feeling a little sentimental over being in the last year of my twenties. My twenties have been great! It was my decade of change, falling in love, becoming a mom.

What will my thirties be? I have no idea, but whatever it is will probably be a little more grown up. Maybe there's a few more things I need to do before I turn 30 to make sure I'm really ready for it. Maybe it's this feeling combined with my love of to-do lists and goal-setting that I have felt the need to make a list of things I'd like to accomplish before I turn 30. I have no idea how many of these I will actually get to in the next year. But it's good to be ambitious, right? It never hurts to aim high. So here goes. I'll let you know how I did one year from now. 

In no particular order:

1. Learn to shoot in manual focus
2. Get a pair of Birkenstocks
3. Have Johnny do a night away
4. Go away for a night with just Alex
5. Make a sweater for everyone in my (immediate) family
6. Read Brideshead Revisted
7. See the Minnesota Orchestra
8. Organize the pantry
9. Purge baby clothes
10. Purge my own clothes
11. Learn to like beer
12. Do an organized, out of the house activity (ie: painting class, piano lessons)
13. Go to the Red Cow
14. Have a regular girls night
15. Buy no new yarn until I have gotten through my current yarn stash
16. Be a part of a Bible study
17. Take some yoga classes
18. Do a weekly holy hour
19. Do a weekly rosary
20. Reread Harry Potter
21. Be more patient
22. Have a good labor and delivery experience
23. Plant some cherry trees
24. Read more
25. Spend less
26. Back up all the pictures on my computer
27 Join a Well Read Mom group
28. Practice piano regularly
29. Develop a good habit of daily prayer
30. Harvest the compost


keep in touch!




See! The winter is past;
    the rains are over and gone.
Flowers appear on the earth;
    the season of singing has come.
-Song of Songs 2: 11-12


The seasons change whether we want them to or not. Sometimes we're longing for change and it feels like it will never come. Other times life is so busy a new season is upon us and we never even noticed the old one depart.

There is so much change going on in our little family right now. I go back and forth between yearning for the next step and feeling that bittersweet tug of wanting everything to stay the same. 

My boy is getting so big. He sleeps in his own bed. He feeds himself. He explores the world around him. He doesn't need me for sustenance or security like he used to. Our days are crazy, but routine and predictability have brought a peacefulness. I can feel us making room in our lives for a change, a new little family member. I'm really enjoying this time with Johnny, and cherishing the calm before the inevitable chaos that having two will bring. 

My teaching year has come to an end. My students and I gave a recital last weekend, the music of which is still running through my head. I said good bye to some students, others I will see again in the fall. Now I can exhale and enjoy a slower paced summer. I'm downsizing my studio in preparation for the new baby. It's been harder and harder to switch back and forth between my mommy brain and my working brain.  I'm feeling more and more that this is the season of my life that should be devoted to motherhood, and I'm ok with letting other things go, for now. 

Our biggest change happened last week. Friday was Alex's last day of work at a company he has been with for 13 years. A very long and significant season of his life is over. He's leaving the job we met at, the job we started dating at. This job saw us through the beginning of our marriage, the purchase of our house and the birth of our son. He's leaving security and familiarity and starting something totally new. This is a new season and a new adventure; one that we're embarking on together.

We went to visit Alex on his last day.
This change was no surprise. In fact it has been three years in the making. Prerequisites, night classes, weekends spent studying, the GRE, grad school applications and interviews, hours and days and months of preparation have all gone into this. It felt like we would be in the season of preparing forever. But now it's over and the next season is here. Two weeks of staycation and then Alex will be a full time PA student. 

We have no idea what that will look like. 

But I know it's what's supposed to happen.

These flowers arrived on our porch Saturday, a token of thanks from Alex's boss.


keep in touch! 


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//embrace the ordinary vol 2: snow//


For some people snow might not be that ordinary. But for us Minnesotans it is incredibly ordinary. We have snow for at least six months out of the year. We're constantly scraping it off our cars and stomping it from our boots and clearing it from our sidewalks. It limits time spent outdoors, gets our socks wet, and makes traffic miserable. I do not like the snow. 

We got our first snow fall this year on November 9th, which maybe is a little early for a first snow of the year. It was a big one. And unlike other first snows, which usually disappear once the sun comes out, it looks like this is it. Snow until April.  

But this year I've decided to embrace the snow and enjoy everything that comes with it. I'm going to enjoy how beautiful it makes everything look, and the way it sparkles in the sunlight or the street lamps. I'm going to enjoy Johnny's reaction to the snow, and how cute he looks bundled up in all his winter gear.  I'm going to embrace having an excuse to just stay home all day with a big sweater and two pairs of socks on. And I'm going to make hot chocolate and do lots of knitting. Somehow the snow doesn't seem so bad anymore. 


Check out Someday Saints for more of Embrace the Ordinary

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//S E A S O N S: time to get ready//

One of the reason I love living in Minnesota is that we really do experience ALL 4 seasons. (Que Vivaldi!) Our summers are humid and with highs pushing 100. Our winters have us snowed in, and our furnaces working over time to fight off the -1, or -10, or -20 lows. And between these two extremes we have the most wonderful springs and autumns with the deep greens of  new growing grass, and the fiery reds and oranges of the fall foliage. I may not like every minute of every season, but I'm really glad I get to experience them all.

One of the reason I love being Catholic is that we get to experience all the seasons of the church year. There are the penitential season of advent and lent, the joyful seasons of Christmas and Easter (that's right, they last longer than just one day!), and there's the ordinary time, where we focus on growing in our faith.  I am always looking for new ways to celebrate and participate in the different church season, whether it be finding a good book to read, going to talks or bible studies at my church, challenging myself to add more prayer time to my day, or give up something that I enjoy. Whatever I do, I always find that the more effort I put into participating in each season, the more I get out of it, and I grow more! 

I know if feels like Christmas is a hundred years away, but advent is just a few shorts weeks away. I don't know about you, but I don't want to wait until Christmas Eve to get ready for Christmas.  I want to start on that very first Sunday of advent to quiet my heart, and make room in there for my Savior. Heck! That's what we should be doing all year around! 

I've mentioned on here before that I've been writing devotionals with a beautiful group of women who make up Blessed Is She (subscribe if you haven't already). And some of those beautiful women have followed the nudging of the Holy Spirit to put together a journal for the season of advent. It has the scripture readings for each day, space to journal or doodle, inspiring quotes and reflections, and most importantly, it will become a place for you to share YOUR HEART with the Lord as you prepare for Christmas.

I'm so excited to use my journal to prepare my heart during advent, and I really want you to be able to do the same! So I'm giving one away! And I really hope YOU win! But if you don't, and you still want a journal, it's ok-  you can order your own here!

Ok, go ahead and get your entries in!!! And tell all your friends!