the end of buy nothing november

img_7247 And just like that, November is drawing to a close.  When I decided that I wouldn’t buy anything for the entire month of November, I admit it was mostly just a reaction to the plethora of stuff in my house, and the overwhelming commercialism of the upcoming holiday season.  I wasn’t sure how it would go, or how I would feel about it when it was all said and done. Some of the results of a month-long kibosh on spending were as you’d expect, while others really surprised me.  In a nutshell, here are my takeaways from Buy Nothing November: Continue reading

everything but the turkey

rp_dsc_0057.jpgThanksgiving’s tomorrow and you still don’t have the perfect recipe for green bean casserole?  How about pie?  Well, lucky for you your favorite mom blogger (just kidding, it’s me) used to be a food blogger and spent a WHOLE lotta time finding the best of the best recipes for Thanksgiving.  These are some of my absolute favorite, crowd-pleasing recipes.  You know, just in case you’re not totally prepared yet. Continue reading

library haul 11/8

First of all, a bit of news!  This here link-up is moving!  Alicia at Sweeping Up Joy will be hosting the link-up over there from now on.  I’ll still be sharing my library finds and linking up there, but if you want to join in (and I hope you do, we have so much fun!), you’ll just be linking up over there instead of here.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

So, if you thought we got a lot of library books before, you’d be well and truly shocked at how many library books etc. we check out when the weather turns colder.  It’s a lot.  Nothing  better than snuggling up on the couch with all your little peeps (or without) and diving into a big pile of fresh library books.  We got a HUGE pile this week, but for some reason, I wasn’t feeling super excited about many of them. You win some, you lose some.  There were a couple of standouts, though.

fullsizeoutput_2c13Joseph Had A Little Overcoat – Such a great book.  Very simple story, but my kids loved it and the illustrations were phenomenal and the pages were die cut to show how Joseph’s overcoat gets smaller and smaller with each incarnation.  AND my kids thought it was pretty funny when I tried to play the accompanying song on the piano and sing along.  Terrible singing voice and piano playing optional. Continue reading

dealing with discouragement (CAPC series)

*For the past several years, I’ve been contributing to an amazing site, Catholic Attatchment Parenting Corner. (What can I say, I’ve really got a thing for niche-writing, yeah?) Due to all kinds of life circumstances, the site won’t be live for much longer, and the editor and creator of that site will be focusing solely on her other (wonderful) endeavor, Intentional Catholic Parenting.  So I decided to run a few of my old articles as a little mini-series, so they can find a new forever home here. Some of them are recent, and some of them were from a few years ago, but I hope they all speak to the experiences of different stages and moments in motherhood. *

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I’ve been thinking a lot about discouragement lately. How powerful it can be and how powerless it should be. We are all vulnerable to discouragement in different ways, and it’s a tricky thing- it can sneak up on us when we least expect it.

To be honest, I’ve been struggling mightily with discouragement lately. I feel it sneaking up on me each time my just-cleaned kitchen becomes sticky with spilled juice and scattered with crumbs. It rears its ugly head when an idea I’m excited about for my moms’ group isn’t met with the enthusiasm I expected. I find it lurking in the background when I struggle with overcoming challenges in my marriage. And often, discouragement can be the dominant feeling when my kids are just not behaving the way I want them to. Discouragement says, “Why bother? What you’re doing isn’t working. Your efforts are not worth it. You might as well just give up.”  This quickly leads from simple discouragement to despair, which is a scary, lonely place to be.

As parents, we have to be on guard when this voice whispers in our ear. Why? Because I can tell you, with certainty, that voice is not coming from God. In fact, it almost certainly is coming from below . And there is nothing he wants more than to convince us that what we are trying to do as parents doesn’t matter, that it’s not worth it.

Let’s face it. Parents can be easy targets for this kind of temptation. Parenting can be an exhausting, thankless job. There are no promotions, no bonus checks. We are often criticized for what we do or don’t do, even by those close to us. When despite our efforts to parent with gentleness, grace, and love, our children act less than angelically (as children do), how tempting it is to say, “Why bother?”

The world would have us believe that we shouldn’t. That the effort that we put into raising our children might be better channeled into a “paying job” or something that we find more personally fulfilling. The world would have us believe that having a well-behaved child is more important than how we are working toward that behavior. When faced with this kind of thinking, of course we are susceptible to discouragement and hopelessness. I’ve often come face to face with despair when I think too much about how to navigate this world that is so often at odds with my faith. So what can we do about it?

Well, to start with, we must acknowledge this feeling and name where it comes from. When I hear the words in my head, “Why do I even bother?,” it is a signal for me to stop what I’m doing and identify the source. Once I’ve acknowledged that it’s not coming from God, I can begin to actively work against it.

Scripture is full of encouragement when we are feeling burdened by worry or failure, and I keep these passages handy for when the feeling pops up.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Where we are weak, God is strong. What greater encouragement is there!? We do not have to be strong, or even successful.  In fact, it is better if we are not at times, so that God can take over and work through us. This simple idea turns discouragement on its head because it take our failures and turns them into God’s sucesses. We need not strive for perfection, only for trust in God and his perfect plan for us.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

When the feeling of discouragement and despair feels overwhelming, there is nothing more powerful than prayer. When I was a child, my mom told me that if I ever felt really frightened, all I needed to do was say a Hail Mary, because anything evil was no match for the Blessed Mother. This stuck with me, and while I’m no longer afraid of what might lurk in the closet, I now have anxiety and fears that feel bigger than those monsters under the bed. Now, when I hear the evil one whispering discouragements in my ear, I stop what I’m doing and pray to the Blessed mother. The evil one and his disparagements flee. They are no match for a loving mother.

Which brings me to my next point: We have to talk to our kids about how to deal with discouragement. In a world that rewards success and punishes failure, we have to instill in our children that God’s ways are not the ways of the world. We have to tell them that hopelessness is not from our loving Father. Childhood has the potential to be rife with discouragement. There is so much to be learned, and thus so many opportunities to fail! But if we share with our kids that God takes their failures and makes them His successes, they will be empowered to withstand the real disappointments and yes, even despair, that they are almost certain to face in their lives.

As parents, we are called to stand in for our Heavenly Father on earth, encouraging our children when they are feeling lonely, despairing, hurt. Even if the despair of a small child seems inconsequential to us. (Raise your hand if you’ve comforted your child through the despair of not being able to put their shoes on by themselves, or the angst of not being able to spend an extra half hour at the park!) That is what God does for us when we feel hopeless. So when we say, “I can see you are upset that you can’t do this, but it’s ok. I’ll help you and you can try again next time,” we are showing our children how God treats each one of us. It might even be helpful to explain this feeling to our kids, and put a name to it. After all, naming this feeling as an adult takes away so much of it’s power over us.

This all brings me back to where I started.

Discouragement can feel like such a powerful emotion. It robs us of our peace, makes us question the plan God has for us, and tempts us to despair. But in reality, it has no power. When we call it what it is, the work of the one who wants to see us fail, it is so much easier to see it as what it is:  an illusion, a trick. Our God is infinitely more powerful than any of these tricks; we need only turn to him when we feel its presence, and teach our families to do the same.

library haul link-up 11/1

It’s the first day of November!  Which also means that it’s the first day of #buynothingnovember!  And what better way to celebrate than to talk about library finds… because at libraries, it’s all free!  Friends who are doing this with me- the library will be your friend this month?  Books?  Movies?  Magazines?  Tickets to local attractions?  Music?  ALL FREE, nothing to buy.  Here are a few of the things I picked out this week.

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Everyone Brave is Forgiven (for my kindle)- I try to always have a good book on my kindle, so that when I have a few minutes, I can read from my iPhone, instead of wasting time on Facebook.  I have loved all the other Chris Cleave books I’ve read, so I was really looking forward to this one and it hasn’t disappointed  this far.  I love this dark, but sometimes silly sense of humor, and I really enjoy his characters.  I’m enjoying this one immensely. If you don’t check out e-books from your library, you’re missing out!  I have probably saved hundreds, if not thousands of dollars getting ebooks from the library rather than buying them. Continue reading

7 things i’ll miss in november

Since I’ve decided to commit to doing a #buynothingnovember (read more about that here), I decided it would be wholly appropriate for me to sit here and whine about the stuff I’ll miss.  Just kidding.  Kind of.  But I did sit and think about the stuff I’ll have to say no to, so I can be prepared.  Here it is:

  1. Target. Just Target in general.  I know I can’t go there, even for food. Because seriously, have you ever gone to Target just for food and actually walked out with just food? No. So it’s probably best we just part ways for a while.
  2. Amazon.  Kind of for the same reason as Target- it’s just way too easy to buy stuff.  There are things that I would consider needs that I purchase through Amazon, but if I’m being honest, there are a lot of purchases that I justify as needs that might not actually be needs.  That “Add to Cart” button is just too tempting.  I’ll be hitting Amazon pretty hard in December for Christmas presents, so I feel ok taking a little break for the month of November. I’ll just use that prime subscription for endless episodes of Daniel Tiger and Man in the High Castle, thank you very much.img_5364{library books will be my friend.}
  3. Fancy beverages. This is one of those things that I say I don’t really care about but somehow I keep buying them.  So it should be easy to pass on these next month.  Not stopping at the coffee shop will probably be pretty easy, because I don’t do it too often. But not scooping up some delicious artisan soda or kombucha at the grocery store might prove to be harder.  We’ll see.img_4877{goodbye, fancy soda.}
  4. Clicking through to shops on Instagram.  I am SO bad about this.  I scroll through my friend’s instagram photos and the cute sweater they’re wearing catches my eye. Or the blanket on their couch.  Lucky for me, they tagged it!  Woo hoo!  I tap through, and before I know it, I’m the proud new owner of a fair-trade, organic alpaca blanket that costs as much as a years’ worth of Starbucks.  Ok, not really, but close to that.  I’m not giving up Instagram, but I’m going to work on reminding myself NOT to click through to shops, even if they’re incredibly tempting.  Self-control, guys.  Not my strong suit, but I’m gonna give it a go.
  5. Buying kids’ clothes. My kids don’t need any more clothes. Period.  They don’t have huge wardrobes, but they don’t need huge wardrobes.  And they don’t care, at all.  So at this point, if I buy something for them to wear, it’s more for me than for them, even though I sometimes tell myself otherwise.  If we’re really in need of something, I’ll bust out the sewing machine and attempt to make it with what I have on hand.img_5250{hope you like this sweater, joe.}
  6. MLM Parties.  Online or otherwise.  Because here is how it goes: I get invited to one of these parties and I say, “I’ll just do it to support my friend, but I’m not buying anything  because I don’t need anything.” And then… the rest is history.  I adore my friends who are entrepreneurs and truly do like to support them in any way I can.  But I’ll have to find other ways to support their endeavors in November, because leggings, no matter how soft and comfy they are, are a want and not a need for me at the moment.  But I’ll miss the snacks and wine.
  7. And here’s one thing I won’t miss: targeted ads.  I’m going to clear all the cookies and caches and whatnot on my computer so that I won’t get so many of those targeted ads that always seem to know exactly what I want.  I can’t even tell you how many times I shopped for something online, decided that I didn’t need it, then one of those Facebook ads popped up and I then decided that I did want it.  This is exactly the point of these kinds of ads, I get it, but I don’t need anything convincing me that I need anything during the month of November, so I’m going to do my best to steer clear.

So that’s how I’ll be avoiding needless spending on November- any other tips for me?

*Linking up with Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.  Head over and see what everyone else is up to!*

buy nothing november

img_6167This morning, as I wrote on my to-do list a series of tasks related to “figure out where to put ____”, I had an epiphany.  We have too much stuff.  I’m constantly purging stuff, packing stuff away, trying to pawn stuff off on other people.  Even little old me, who likes to consider herself a minimalist, cannot stem the tide of stuff.  It clutters my mind and raises up some serious questions about how I’m using our resources. Because others (actually, most others, if we’re talking globally) don’t have the luxury of spending even a few extra dollars each month. But I had this aha moment where I realized that if I want to stop the madness, I have to STOP BUYING STUFF.

Now, I don’t consider myself a shopaholic in the slightest.  I don’t spend a ton of money “shopping” in the traditional sense.  We don’t splurge on meals out often, and we’re not into the latest electronic gadgets.  But. When I stop and scrutinize all the things that I’m bringing into my home and spending money on, can I honestly say that I need them?  No.  I may think of myself as minimalist, but maybe that’s because in some ways, my  home has become a revolving door- out with the old, and in with the new.  It keeps our number of possessions in check, but it’s not really in the spirit of minimalism, and we’re not being good stewards of our resources.  I look around my home and realize that not only do we not need one more single thing, but we already have far more than many people have.  It. is. enough.

November is a month that we focus on gratitude, and being thankful for what we have.  This year, I want to focus on what makes me truly grateful.  I want to pay attention to the little things that I take for granted, but I also want to take time away from tending to our physical wants so that I can draw nearer in understanding the emotional and spiritual needs of my family.

So, I’ve challenged myself, for the entire month of November, to not buy one single thing.  No matter if I think we really need it (or will need it in the future). No matter if it’s on some amazing sale that will never come around again (yep, that’ll include black Friday deals, guys.)  No matter if it’s only $1 from the Target Dollar section.

Now, obviously, food doesn’t count, because I have a feeling my family would object to not being fed.  But since I tend to sometimes buy little treats when I’m grocery shopping, I’ll be sticking to a tight “only on the list” rule.  But in the spirit of the challenge, I’m going to keep even grocery shopping to a minimum and try to cook from my pantry more often than not. And of course, I’ll pay my bills.  And get people medical care if they need it. But that’s it. (And even these things aren’t a given for everyone. So there’s that.)

Want to join me?  I’ve never done this before, so I can’t promise it’ll change your life or anything; I don’t really know. But I suspect that at the end, we’ll not only feel a little more appreciative of the things we usually spend money on, but also a little more free from the tyranny of stuff.  And, as a bonus, you’ll most likely save a bit of money that you can use toward holiday festivities in December, or better yet, donate to a charity that helps those that truly have no extra money to spend, and for whom spending a little extra money here and there is not an option.  I’d love to have some companions in this adventure.  So what do you say?  Do you think you could live with only what you have on November 1st for a whole 30 days?  Let’s find out together! (Hint: I think we can.)

I’ll be posting updates on my successes (and probably failures) here all month, and on Instagram with the hashtag #buynothingnovember.  I’m excited to embark on this adventure together and see how other people get creative about “making it work” with what we already have and get into the spirit of the challenge.

seven quick takes.

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  1. In years past, I’ve done lots of canning and preserving at the end of the summer.  This year, I’m trying not to expect too much of myself in that department, so I’ve really only gotten around to the essentials: applesauce and giardinara. Those are the two things that we not only enjoy the most, but they’re also the ones that I’ve found are worth it to can yourself instead of just buying them.  NOTHING beats homemade applesauce, and I get super annoyed that it’s basically impossible to find store-bought giardinara without food coloring in it.  Seriously. Annoying.  Canning with a newborn is a tricky proposition, so I’m going to go ahead and call it a win for this year and moving on. I also made this apple cake, which is a whole lot easier and it’s cake, so it’s better than anything I could possibly can.
  2. Do you guys read Lori Harris’ blog?  Everything she writes has me nodding and muttering emphatic YESes at my computer screen, and this piece that she wrote on mercy was really amazing, I thought.  I put this one in my “Re-read often” folder.rectangle-upside-down-podcast-words_1_orig
  3. Speaking of Lori, she and four other women (including my sweet friend Shannon Evans), have started a podcast that’s pretty flippin’ fantastic.  It’s call Upside Down and it’s worth a listen.  They deal honestly and lovingly with tough issues that come with being Christ-followers.  It’s inspiring, funny, and real all at the same time.  If you’re into podcasts (or even if you’re not), put this one on your list.
  4. Where are you on the whole “leggings as pants” spectrum? I’m vaguely on the anti-leggings-as-pants side, but not so much that I couldn’t be convinced with a decent argument.  However, I’ve extremely pro-leggings when it comes to turning summer dresses into fall and winter attire, or with tunics or long sweaters and stuff like that.  Since the weather has turned colder, a closer examination of my closet has revealed that almost all of my leggings are, indeed, maternity leggings.  Yeesh.  So I decided to try my luck and order a couple pairs from Pact.  I was nervous to order online because I’m realllll picky about leggings.  They have to be on the thicker side, but not so thick that they don’t bunch up behind the knees.  Smooth so they don’t bunch whatever top or dress I’m wearing, but not nylon shiny like tights.  Snug enough that they smooth everything out, but stretchy enough that I can wear them comfortably after I eat an entire burrito. And never, ever see-through.  But I was pleasantly surprised by these- they fit all my qualifications, PLUS they’re made from organic cotton, PLUS they’re ethically produced, PLUS they weren’t super expensive.  If you’re in the market for leggings, these are worth your time.
  5. My hubby was super sweet and went out and bought me Chip and Joanna Gaines’ new book, The Magnolia Story. It’s sweet because we loved watching all the Fixer Upper episodes together on Netflix, and he heard about their book on the radio and went out and got it.  This might not sound like a big deal, but he’d be the first one to admit, he’s not got the best track-record at gift-giving.  But that may be a different post.  Anywho, the book is sweet and fun to read, and I think my hubs is going to read it, too so we can talk about it.  How fun is that?
  6. In a true show of Grace-ness, Grace told me she wanted to be a duck for Halloween… literally an hour after I completed her black cat costume.  So I totally mean-mommed it and told her she had to be a black cat.  Do you think she’ll live? Too soon to tell. I’ll update you next week.img_9483{This was Grace last year. At least she’s consistent.}
  7. We’re going to see Apparition Hill on Sunday and I’m really looking forward to it.  Partly because I’ve heard it’s excellent (there’s even Oscar talk!) and partly because I think it’ll be the first time in almost 4 years that I’ve seen a movie in an actual theater.  Living the life here, guys.  But don’t worry, the babe will be with us, so it’s not tooooo  crazy.fullsizeoutput_c3

*Linking up with Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum… head over and check out what everyone else is up to!*