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Thanksgiving before I ate a bunch of pie. And why is that shovel out? Clearly we’ve had very little snow in Minnesota so far!

In fact, everything feels scattered these days. My mind, my hair, my ability to function. Hyperemesis is hanging on strong through week 37 and even despite my many and best efforts to reframe it in my mind and reaccept being sick and laying down, it gets the better of me some days. I feel frustration for my husband, for my children, for my sainted family that’s so helpful. I feel guilty that I can’t function as I’d like. End of pregnancy is hard for everyone, I know! It’s just a wrapping up of nine month of growing and thinking and preparing.

How special for me it comes parallel to the birth of Christ! I wish I could say this has been the pregnancy where I’ve experienced real, true patience and made time for lots of prayer, and offered up my suffering, and also stayed in yoga-ready-to-birth shape. Every pregnancy I have such high hopes! And then am laid low by the realities of how my body experiences pregnancy. This is the first time for sciatic nerve pain, though, and I must say, yowzer for my friends who suffer it regularly. These prayers I’m offering for you!

I’m ready for baby girl to come anytime, but also don’t feel anxious. If she isn’t here by 41 weeks, my superb midwife and I will talk induction options (not up for going 42 weeks like with MonsterTot and birthing a 10 pound wonder and all the recovery that entailed!). Whenever she’s ready, we’re ready. She just gave a huge kick, so I think she’s on board with this plan.

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I’m closing up my etsy shop, Whole Parenting Goods, for the unknown future on Thursday! So if you wanted to grab one of my holiday blankets or plush blankets, there are very few left. Code is {whole25} for 25% off!

I love sewing so much but am pretty realistic about how much free time I’ll have with four little kids (none?) and do recall that most of newborn-hood is nurse, diaper, burp, repeat. And then soak in the tub for a hot second.

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A few fun opportunities in the upcoming weeks and months to connect and build community!

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I’m leading a Blessed is She workshop next Tuesday night right over here at 8pm. It’s on “home for the holidays: navigating through challenging relationships” because I know my family isn’t the only one who has to navigate different religious beliefs, political convictions, life choices, etc at the holidays. We’re going to talk real, deep, and have a whole list of suggested ways to either make peace or be at peace, whichever is more feasible!

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I get to speak at the Catholic Women’s Blogging Network // Midwest Conference in March of next year! My local gals are awesome who are planning it and you will want to come! It’s March 25th in Saint Paul. Registration is now open. Spaces are limited so you probably want to act fast! Sign up here and partake in a casual Friday night of cocktails & mixing at a private home, an all-day action packed conference on Saturday, complete with Mass, and then a brunch meet up Sunday morning!

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blessed is she

Praying for a really rocking Advent for you. Somehow AA got the decorating bug in him so he and the kids totally decked the house in holiday spirit over the long weekend while I lay around barking cautionary concerns at everyone please don’t stand on that chair get that out of your mouth keep your hands to yourself and do not light that candle. With the baby coming any week, I’m already done with presents and shopping and almost (even!) her closet nursery. But I don’t feel like I’m spiritually ready for the weeks ahead, whether they involve waiting for my baby or simply the Christ child. Never fear, for Blessed is She came out with an amazing Advent journal written by Elizabeth Foss and designed by Erica Tighe that’s sold out in hard cover but available electronically for download. I got to help edit it. It’s stupendous.

I’m hoping that by going through it daily (hashtag #bythemanger on insta), I’ll get some spiritual grounding. Hope you get some this holiday season, too!

It’s gift season! I love giving and receiving gifts so very very much so the delights of the season are not lost on me. I asked around to all my creative hand making friends for a little coupon code for you from their shoppes. They were so generous to oblige!! So I’ve broken it down by genre to make it a little easier for you to scan through and make your selection.

Supporting small businesses means that they really truly benefit from your purchase. Like, it can actually help them with their own holiday budget for their family & friends! So thank you for shopping small.

Household

Clean and Simple: I received the laundry soap & dish soap and absolutely love both of them. She does such a beautiful job on clean ingredients and recipes–a total mystery to me how one figures these things out. My dry itchy skinned children said their clothing felt “really good” after the washings and the dishwasher dishes smelled clean without that awful chemical smell! A big fan over here! WHOLEHOLIDAY for 25% off.

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Call Her Happy: embroidered wearable art, watercolors, and liturgical living guide. Jenna offers how to practice liturgical living with your small children in a VERY doable way. Talk about a happier household! I’m really looking forward to implementing her suggestions throughout Advent. (I love her hoop art, too, by the way, and her Anxiety book, so you can’t go wrong with anything from her shoppe!) Code: WHOLEPARENTLL for $3 off!

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Faberie: I love their washcloths they sent me last year–and still use them all the time in the kitchen. Can’t go wrong with anything they hand make. WHOLE25.

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Mayfly Boutique: cozies! WHOLE15.

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Textiles

My own little shoppe: Whole Parenting Goods! I’m putting on semi-permanent vacation after the next few weeks! Only a handful of blankets left, a few holiday sets, and very few leggings. WHOLE25.

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Faith & Fabric: Jen offers so many interesting things from quilted items to this Nativity book to jewelry. WHOLE15.

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Ordinary Lovely: handknits and crochets. WHOLE10.

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Happy Nest Home Goods: embroidery and textile beauties: WHOLEHAPPY1035 for 10% off orders of $35 or more

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Bean in Love Studio: pillows! WHOLE15.

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Wild Things Adventures: leather art & knits. WHOLE10.

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Religious Articles

Annery at Home for liturgical and everyday living from scarves & jewelry to dress up & crocheted rosaries (my daughter’s favorite). WHOLECHRISTMAS15.

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Sweet Oak Gallery offers beautiful hand lettering & water color along with abacus-style kitchen rosaries. WHOLE15.

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Small things Great Love offers hand knotted rosaries with a unique cross from Roma. WHOLE15.

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Little Praying Hands: children’s chewables. WHOLE is free shipping through 12/14

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Ave Maria Faith Crafts: handmade rosaries and Catholic jewelry. WHOLE10.

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Other Side of the Fence: gifts for your domestic church. WHOLE15.

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Hand Lettering & Art Prints

Telos Art: art and design. WHOLE5OFF – $5 off a purchase of $12 or more between now and December 12!

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Pebble Creek Prints: watercolor and prints. WHOLEPARENTING is 15% off.

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StudioJRU: prints and paintings. WHOLE15.

Annunciation Designs: Catholic greeting cards and goods, hand-lettered designs. WHOLE10.

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Brick House in the City: prints and mugs. WHOLE15.

gift guide Fawnly Prints: prints and water color. WHOLE10.

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Sweet Little Ones: prints and hand lettering. WHOLE20.

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Santa Clara Design Print Shop: prints and hand lettering. WHOLE20.

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And last, but not least, we are giving away 10 copies of this album! Just go to the link and comment here with your fav song they perform! It’s a friend’s husband’s children’s choir at Notre Dame and they do such a beautiful job! O Emmanuel is the link!

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Well, maybe flunked is a harsh term, but I am definitely a drop-out homeschooling mama! When we decided to enroll our oldest in first grade at our local Catholic school a year before he actually went, I was flooded || plagued || haunted by feelings of guilt. Even as the two oldest still get to romp//play//fight out at the Lodge on weekends.

Maybe you’ve struggled with this decision, too. Hopefully you’ve had the space and time to evaluate and figure out what’s best for your family without feeling judged by yourself or others.

Guilt that being an educated at home mom meant I shouldn’t need to rely on other educators.

Guilt that tuition is, well, it’s not free, and I’m not working (see point one).

Guilt that I don’t have ample energy to provide my eager little learners with enriching educational experiences on a regular basis.

Guilt that I was eeking out of some etherial duty that Catholic moms have of home-educating their children.

I also went from being a virulent I can totally homeschool let’s do this forever! when I had a three year old and a one year old to okay! more workbooks and audio stories on your own while I take care of the baby with three kids in four years and then this past year I can’t leave the house much because I’m throwing up and you want to do another science experiment thank GOD you’re going to school in the fall.

The kicker for us was that pregnancy is so debilitating with hyeremesis and multiple IVs for fluid loss. We knew we hoped for another baby. But we also knew realistically what pregnancy would look like.

I argued with myself at first when we decided to homeschool kinder & then send him for first grade.

I didn’t want to admit that being with me all day long wasn’t what was best for him–my bright inquisitive curious oldest born who wanted so much to experience knowledge more viscerally than even the best Jim Weiss cds could offer. And we’ve listened to almost all of them. Story of the World four times through.

Eventually I saw how he longed for much more than I could give. Swallowing pride, I’ve embraced being a school mom.

School has been wonderful for him. He is delighted and thrilled. He says he had a great day every day. He loves his teachers and little friends. He loves the variety of activities they do. He loves that religion class is three times a week, and one of those times they go to Adoration. He loves that everyday they pray a decade of the Rosary in their classroom during quiet time. He loves his little desk.

I’m finding in my transition to a school mom that the most challenging parts physically (getting up & at ’em, making his lunch, doing homework and packing his bag) have been eclipsed by the myriad of opportunities to talk about how we should act and howe we should treat others. I would pay money again and again for this opportunity for him to navigate relating to the world in a safe & loving environment.

We talk about how to treat other’s bodies with respect, including language used for your bottom (booty isn’t going to cut it, buddy). We talk about including the kid that annoys you. We brainstorm how to handle when you feel rushed during an assignment or, conversely, bored during instructions. We talk about what it means to have a feeling and honor it without unloading it onto other people.

These gems! These little nuggets of conversation where I get to see how he sees the world and he’s still little enough to listen to my view on things! They’re more precious to me than anything. I couldn’t manufacture these as a homeschooling mom under my circumstances. Character formation above all else has been the most enriching part of his school experience.

The confusing part for many Catholic or Christian moms might be what I struggled with: is there a moral obligation to homeschool your children? Akin to the discussion of whether or not being a working mom is a moral question (I’ve written about this: it’s not, in my mind), it’s a genuine struggle for many moms. Can we afford private school? What are our public school options? Can our family handle homeschool? Can me, moi, I as the primary caretaker both caretake and homeschool? How are my other children doing? How is my marriage doing? I contend there is no moral obligation to homeschool your kiddo, and that, instead, the obligation sits in prayerfully and carefully discerning what’s best for each kid and what’s best for your family.

If you love homeschool, or even like it, and it works for you, that is so awesome and I totally respect you!

If you love public school or private school, Catholic school or non-religious school, and it’s working for you, I totally respect you!

There are many ways to educate a child and I don’t even know that we will go this route for all our kids! But it’s working beautifully for now and for that I am so, so grateful.

And this is what we do when he’s away . . .

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And visit him at school when he has a presentation to give!

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