Photos of the week (v)

It’s all personal today!

Recently, we drove the 2.5 hours to Monterrey to visit the Aquarium. I love Pacheco Pass. I find the hills breathtaking.

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Preparations began for Miriam’s First Holy Communion. I decided to take out my wedding dress, which I love but had not laid eyes on since my wedding. In true KonMari fashion, I removed the fabric from the skirt (some tears were involved). Once the act was done, the decision sat fine with me. We will use the fabric from my dress to make her First Communion dress.

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Antiquing with my mother I found these beauties! Dessert and serving plates by Currier and Ives, Royal China. They bring me joy. The KonMari method is not about minimalism, so much as it is about surrounding yourself with things that you love. All the discussions about how many books to own are unnecessary for the book lover and, in this case, dishes for the dish collector.

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Valentine’s Day (sorry for the quality), we set out Valentine’s for a morning surprise. Everyone picks one Valentine to cut down on craft-stress out time. We observed the day on Tuesday in order to give Ash Wednesday its due. In the morning we took Celeste the bunnies and hearts.

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I am thinking about writing and photographing my own Stations of the Cross for kids. I took a quick snapshot of one station at St. Dominic’s when I was there prior to Peter’s surgery last week. To stand inside that church, as the procession moves forward and the organ swells, is like being enveloped in beauty. This is called “contemplative architecture” and it lifts our hearts to God. For parents whom little children are constantly distracting, this beauty helps one maintain or regain focus throughout the mass, entering into the kairos of God.

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And here is the little hero, waiting to go in. Everything went well, though recovery has been stressful. It was his 8th surgery in life, and his first outpatient surgery. As such, a triumph!

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Weekend Links 8.19.17

No fewer than fourteen links to fuel your weekend frenzy.

Family First

  1. The answer people have looked for! How to adapt the KonMari Method of tidying to fit a life with children. We so often look for a clear-cut answer: do this and your life will be better. True enough, we have been worked over by advertising campaigns since the 50’s simplifying our needs to this message. The KonMari Method fit my approach (keep what I love, get rid of what I do not love). Her methods improved my housekeeping (keep all cleaners in one place, use cardboard boxes for storage, fold clothes and store upright instead of stacked). I never felt trapped by the method. She said herself, do not do it for others. I could fold my husband’s clothes but did not worry about his possessions. Same for my children. We just do our best. Where it was not practical, the method need not apply (maternity clothes). Still, many seem invested in getting the advice of so-called experts. Better we learned to take it as recommendations, and learn to listen to our own voice, to develop our homes as best fits those who live in it.
  2. I think our society does very little to support mothers. The American value of independence and individualism infiltrated family life. While it was perfectly natural for multiple generations to support young mothers, as families members became more spread out, this became more difficult. Add to it, the lifelong goal of retirement. With our working mothers who tried to have it all, when retirement comes, many grandmothers may not have anticipated their daughters’ or sons’ hopes they would be involved in some way. Liberal government wants to help be reducing the number of babies born, providing free childcare and free preschools. How about some ideas that allow the mothers to be with their babies? France has some ideas.
  3. Loved this soulful post from Julie Walsh. Motherhood is nothing, if not a paradox.
  4. For all these reasons, I’m grateful “to have my hands full,” “to be busy,” “to be crazy,” to have embraced life to the fullest.
  5. For some theology and motherhood, an article from last year on how Microchimerism defends the doctrine of the Assumption of Mary.
  6. Simple advice from Edith Stein, the best kind, the kind we need to learn again and again: to grow in empathy (1) get out of your own head, (2) notice others, (3) practice love and (4) see persons, not labels.

On the Faith

  1. While I have never desired to get a tattoo, I find the symbolism it holds for the individual who has it fascinating. Reading these motivations, of declaring oneself for God is just beautiful: a tattoo as a way of expressing who one is in the Lord.
  2. This analysis by R.R. Reno (one of my favorite writers) is a subject I will keep my eye on.
  3. This advice how to rest on the Sabbath was a breath of fresh air to my soul. In my family of origin, like many families, the weekends were for catching up on things around the house. In our home, we try not to do housework more than the necessary garbage bag to the bin, some dishes). I am aware of a weakness in my mental approach to the Sabbath. We may rest and spend the day together, but my thoughts are little more spent on God than other days. It is a work in progress.
  4. Catholic liturgy, architecture, and music can be breathtaking. Why do people not only practice but insist on the banal and hokey? If we want to transmit the faith, let us fight the good fight to not only defend the capability of the masses to enjoy quality, but to give God our absolute best.
  5. George Weigel puts it succinctly about how passing on the faith will take effort, an effort, he remarks, is taking place in Detroit.
  6. As Weigel will tell you, we are in a generational shift in the Catholic Church. Maybe your parish is forming a committee to revamp the interior of the church building. Check out these painted interiors in Texas for inspiration. For many of our ugly modern churches, referencing Eastern European traditions may be just what they need to work with the architecture, but bring back beauty.

In the News

  1. I find Google News searches useless now, ever since Trump was elected. Most of the news relates to Trump, or racism, or ISIS. Would you have read there about the terrible flooding in Sierra Leone? No, you would not. News bias.
  2. A moving post making real for those of us with lives that feel far removed from Charlottesville. Better than anything I have seen in the news trying to use this tragedy as another political weapon.

The KonMari Method and Me: Book lover and graduated graduate student

I’m on my technical Day 4 of the KonMari Method. Mother of three, expectant of one, this is not the sort of addiction I should be getting into. But here we are. I shutter to tell my husband of the physical toll. So if you’re pregnant, just hold onto that book till the baby’s born and you actually can’t move. Pain is your body’s way of telling you to stop. Dopamine is your brain’s way of saying, don’t ever stop.

I have seven garbage bags of clothes for the future yard sale. My husband has consented to storing them in the attic. Four are my clothes, one is boy clothes, two are girl clothes. Since I started reading the book, I waited in anticipation of Category #2: books.

Books have ever been a problem. My father cherished books. I never saw him read them for leisure, but he taught me that sense that books are precious. They made sure I had many books. I recall exploring the Bible for the first time as it had always sat my shelves. I giggled at a leather bound antique book on the human body in my father’s collection. He and I took trips to the local used bookstore. He delighted in buying me books and I delighted in the escape they provided during adolescence.

Thus I owned many books. Naturally they had to go with me. It’s cute in Rory’s room on the Gilmore Girls but not so quite when your husband has to carry them in boxes at least every two years. Here are some storage solutions over time.

IMG_1592In Virginia, using a Target bookshelf and a plastic one from home, stacked on a filing cabinet since there was too much furniture.

IMG_1597Moving to the country in California, we used my father’s double sided bookcase as a room divider to create an office for my husband. It was nearly full.

IMG_3676Before we moved again, I purged and discarded a substantial number of books.

We could not fit the double sided bookshelf in our new and current home so they books were spread all over the house. In our office remodel we created a library wall using brackets and reclaimed wood. A dream come true but some times it seemed so very full, I wondered how attractive it really was.

We created a pallet bookshelf for in-use books in the kid’s room.

IMG_6512I’ve thought about book organization much more than clothing organization, thus my excitement. Kondo directs the reader to, like everything else, only keep that which gives you a thrill. To be grateful for the books that have lived out their time in your life and send them on their way. Because I believe in the value of books, this resonates with me. She tells us to get realistic, if we haven’t read it, we won’t read it again. I keep books for reference and that has been useful, but some of them I have not referenced in years. I can let them go.

To fully follow the KonMari Method, you bring all your books to the floor. I am unwilling to do this. So I stood on a comfortable step ladder and held each book, asking if it sparks joy. I was surprised at the result. Oliver Twist, no. Great Expectations, yes (really?). A Tale of Two Cities, yes (that surprises me). I thought I’d discard all my Jane Austen books but Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park and Persuasion tickled my joy. I accepted that if I ever teach courses in psychology, I can just find a new textbook because most Ethics textbooks for psychology are the same. I left my husband’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy and Zelda books alone because they give him joy. I still need to ask him about his Calligraphy book.

We recycled children’s books that were torn up and I put into the discard box the books I deeply disliked. So on and so on. My eldest daughter helped me. My son whined and tried to occupy himself otherwise. My youngest (a year and a half)  attached to John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism the rest of the day, which was pretty funny. As long as it’s bringing pleasure and not harming anyone, I guess that’s okay.

IMG_7701  One overflowing, too heavy to carry box of books filled and the shelves now have breathing room. They look neater, more beautiful to me.

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I will take the box to the used book store and see what money we can get (for birthdays and Christmas presents) and then take the rest to the library. That last step makes it very easy for me to let them go. I know exactly where I can get them if I ever have the urge to read them again!

I have a few more to go through. I haven’t managed to bring everything to one place. There are some stray books in my room. And I didn’t realize she included magazines. I usually sort through those and take clippings, so that falls to the “papers” category.

Luckily, I can conquer that sitting down. Until then!

The KonMari Method and Me: KonMari my kiddos

So far we’ve had a day of reflection and a day to tackle my own clothes. Day 2 and Day 3 I went after the kids’ clothes.

Day 2: The boy Clothes

We have three born children, first a girl, then a boy, then a girl. The boxes of girl clothes have swelled. They are, however, better sorted than the boy clothes. Those never required another thought other than fitting it into a box for moving.

I spent an hour simply sorting all the boy clothes into sizes. With my first child I attempted to store clothing based on its relative sizes because, if you have children, you know not every 6-9 months is exactly as it is says it is. This method was foolish and made it very difficult to find the things that fit when Girl #2 was ready for a new size.

Welcome KonMari Method. I don’t know that I followed this exactly. What to keep for children is part practical and part about joy. I immediately see that I get more joy in looking at girl clothes than boy clothes. Yet I feel joy when I think of how happy he was to wear those t-shirts. I throw into the discard pile, nearly a full garbage bag. There are items never worn, items given that were faded, items too badly stained to bother with. It’s a simple process yet I still manage to overwork myself.

Baby shower gifts should include this book by Marie Kondo. It’s a double-edged sword. It will bring immense delight to the nesting mother, and immense tiredness. After some heart palpitations, I decide I should sit more often as I work on this.

Still, when I finish, there is another bag with the bunch. My gold star for a day’s work.

Thinking of Kondo’s advice, I use what I have on hand to make my storage efficient. I tear off cardboard box sides and make dividers for the plastic storage boxes. Previously I would have had one size on bottom and one on top, but as she points out, this makes no sense. It only makes a mess when you are looking for something specific. So the boxes are divided, left and right, with two separate sizes in each box. I manage to fit nb/0-3 month clothing all the way to 2T in three boxes. Since we’re embarking on adventures in boyland again in January, I focused on keeping more and discarding less.

 

Day 3: The girl clothes

IMG_7665I made it: the third day. While my husband was at work, I brought in the boxes of girl clothes from the closet, 7 ½ boxes. While my sick kiddos watched The Wizard of Oz, I made my way through the piles. The process was no emotional for me. Many items gave me joy, some more than others, and it was easy to toss those that did not. It may be that so many were purchased for us, or were purchased at the thrift store. Several times, however, I thought of my mom helping with our yard sale or asking her to help with some of the stained items and worried about how she might react if she saw all the clothes I was discarding. But I would just tell her the numbers.

I started with 7 ½ and now have 4 ½. Three will go to the attic. One is the next size up for the younger and the last, not totally full, is winter clothing for my eldest. With the changing season, it’s appropriate.

So no major revelations during the day three of the process. I’m excited to tackle books now. I admit, I’m tempted to fold my husband’s clothes, but I will try to resist and focus only on that which falls under my jurisdiction.