7QT: the latest of things

I'm link linkin' up with Kelly for another round of Seven Quick Takes, this time it's the latest in the Lemke house, ordered from sort of trivial to not so trivial, and rather long.

One: Advent books

Now that Tom is rapidly approaching age two, I figured this year will be the year we use an Advent calendar, and a Jesse tree if I get to it.  Over the years, I have accumulated a number of wintery and Christmas picture books given to me on Saint Nicholas Day (Dec. 6th, if you were wondering).  I have also been picking up a sweet (or hilarious) Christmas or wintery book here or there at the local thrift shops, reading them beforehand to make sure that both the story and the illustrations are well written and pleasing to the eye.  At this point, I have a big bag filled with these fabulous things, over 25 actually.  Now here is where they fit in with an Advent calendar.  I will be wrapping each of them up individually (using amazing vintage Christmas wrapping paper also found at thrift stores! seriously the best place to find gift wrapping), starting with the wintery books and closing with the Christmas books.  I might have a few trickle over to the 12 Days of Christmas and Epiphany.  I'm trying to figure out how I can incorporate the Jesse tree tradition, so if I figure something out, you'll probably find out closer to the date.  I cannot believe that we already need start planning for all of this!  But I will be out of town for over two weeks or so in November, so the sooner I get these books wrapped and set aside, it's one less thing for me to think about when I am home.

Two: Reading list

What no one told me before having Thomas was that you cannot nurse while properly holding and flipping the pages of a book.  I do not really like reading on my Kindle that often, and I could not snuggle a baby and read easily, so I kind of took a break from reading, as depressing as that is.  I am sure I could have been more proactive about getting reading time in, but after all is said and done, it just did not happen.  I have always thought I needed a longer-than-five-minutes chunk of time to read, but this year, I decided to just deal with small chunks of reading time.  Tom plays so nicely by himself, so in the last four to six months or so, my reading time can be up to an hour and a half with minimal interruptions by him.  That being said, I have still felt overwhelmed by books.

Last week, I took at look at my beautiful and crammed bookshelves, and decided I needed a change.  I cleared some things off a shelf in the living room, and made that my reading list.  I need to see things in person for me to increase motivation, sometimes making a list on paper just does not cut it.  After making my lineup for books for the next few months or so, I am finally super excited and motivated to read again.  Let me share this book list with you, and PLEASE let me know which ones you've read, your thoughts, and if there are any good articles, blog posts, or commentaries on them.

52 Lists for Happiness by Moorea Seal

Edith Stein Collected Works Book 2

The Children of Hurin by J.R.R. Tolkien

Gilead (I have about a third or less left and cannot wait to read Home) by Marilynne Robinson

Interior Castle by Teresa of Avila

The Story of a Soul by Therese of Lisieux

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup


O Pioneers! by Willa Cather

Books 6-7 of the Anne series (I'm just about finished with book 5)

Pierced By a Sword by Bud Macfarlane Jr.

Three: My essential oils project

I am starting a new little project: I will make for you what you don't want to go through the effort of making.  Sound wonderful?  Because it is.

Have you wanted to purchase essential oils, but realize that upon purchasing, you do not quite know how to use them?  Then you find out that they should be properly diluted, which means you then have to buy fractionated coconut oil and rollerball bottles to fill in order to use them topically?  Well now, I have made it easier for you.  I making rollerball bottle blends to sell!  No obligations, only a recommendation that you join the Facebook group I made specifically for introducing and sharing information about the blends I plan to make each month.  I have a Google doc order form all set up as well, and will be updating my 'Shop' tab here on the blog!  I want to make this whole process easier and more cost effective for you.  Yes, in the long run it can be cheaper to buy the individual oils and make the blends yourself, but only if you are going to continue making the blends long after you have used up a bottle made by me.  If you want to start making your own blends after trying one of mine, then I can help you with that too.

So come on over and join my group, or check out the Shop tab here on the blog.  My Facebook group is where everything will be kept up to speed, and stay tuned for next month or so, as I will be putting together some holiday specials and fun packages to make your holiday shopping a bit easier!

Four: My ideal reader

As late in coming as this is, I think I have finally figured out my ideal reader.  Young Catholics, mainly women but men  will not be excluded, who are considered to be Millenials, who love the depth and richness of the Catholic Faith, and aren't willing to compromise what is true, beautiful, and good.  But they will have an iPhone in their hand ready to share some obscure quote found in an less read encyclical written by JPII, or the latest game that will be deleted once they get too annoyed with the amount of time they have wasted playing it.  My ideal reader is someone who just melts in contentedness at the smell of a church filled with incense, and who will sit for hours with well mixed drinks discussing children's books or the way they were parented.  This reader will enjoy lists, GIFs, and happy hour sushi, as well as squishy babies and meditations on the virtues of the Blessed Mother.  These Catholics strongly believe that the change they want to see in society begins in the home, whether they have a family or not.  When needed, they would rather discuss heavy and sensitive topics rather than ignore them, though they might not open up to anyone, choosing to use tact and read their "audience."  The ideal reader of this blog strives to maintain relationships with friends, though it seems hard to do so in our age of technology.  That being said, this technological age causes you to search for depth amongst the superficialness of social media though you may also appreciate something mindless to take a mental break.

If this doesn't seem like you, yet you enjoy reading my little blog, I'm am honored!  I hope you can find a little home here. 

Dear ideal reader, please don't be afraid to leave a comment, you know they don't take long to leave.  Let me know what speaks to you, what made you laugh, and what you'd like to see more of.  I will try to write to you more often, so stay tuned, and share with your friends.  ;)

Five: Teddy

On October 15th, feast of St Teresa of Avila, my sister gave birth to our first nephew!  Sweet baby Teddy was born a month early in part to his diagnosis of gastrochisis, meaning his intestines were outside of his body while still attached on the inside.  He has been proving to be one adorable little fighting creature.  He has his closure surgery four days after being born, and he's been progressing so well since then.  Please pray for this sweet boy's intestines to start functioning as normal so that he can start nursing!  We are going to visit soon so we can snuggle and hold him, and of course see his parents and the rest of our family.  My sister and her husband have been amazing this whole time.  The strength they've had for each other and for Teddy is so inspiring, even during tough moments.  They are so fortunate to have a fantastic medical team working with and for Teddy's healing, and that is such a comfort!  Hooray for Tom's first cousin, and for being Aunt Alex and Uncle Alex for the first time!

Six: Moving

The news just gets bigger.  In July of next year, we will be ending our time here in Tulsa town and will be headed for Madison, Wisconsin, the land of good cheese and Spotted Cow.  It is actually kind of crazy writing this down because it makes it more real, I guess.  Alexander was offered and then accepted a two year judicial clerkship with a Supreme Court Justice of WI, a HUGE deal!  I am so so so proud of him!  I have always loved WI, except during the wintertime, so I am very excited to live there.  I am sad we will not be living near my immediate family, but honestly, with all of our efforts to get back to Texas, it is not where the Lord wants us at this time.  We will be living near my in-laws as well as most of my extended family; the closest relatives will be an hour and a half away.  One of my good and dear friends from childhood and high school lives there with his wife, so we are all excited to be living very close to each other!

It will be so strange to have fall when fall is supposed to come, and honestly, at the end of this winter, I need to start looking for proper warm clothing and outerwear as it gets marked down.  After living in the heat since 2010, I wonder if I will welcome the typically cooler temperatures and snow, or just miss warmer days.  I am pretty sure that I will go down to my parents during February or so when the snow just won't leave, and those 70 degree days will be balmy and hot.  My family is originally from north of Chicago, so I know what it was like then, but not how it will be after the heat.  I'll probably be such a baby, as will Alex because he loves heat and hates hates hates the cold.

We will miss our dear friends in Tulsa, all of their generosity and welcoming us in.  We will miss our priest and parish, but I hear the Catholic community is very good in Madison, so I am excited to dive in again there.  I think the main thing is, we are just relieved and so happy that we will be living near family.  It has honestly been very hard to not be near them, especially to celebrate things together, or just have family dinners on the weekend.  We are above and beyond grateful for this clerkship, and look forward to learning more about Madison the next however many months!

Seven: Baby

And now, for the biggest news of this post, WE ARE HAVING ANOTHER BABY!!!! We are so so thrilled. This little one will join us outside the womb sometime around May 15th, hopefully not ten days earlier on Alexander's graduation.  Haha!  We will not be finding out the gender, keeping all a surprise again like last time.

Tom is starting to understand (a little bit) that there is a baby inside of me.  He lays down and asks me to check on his belly and baby.  So funny.  He's also playing with my old baby dolls all the time, he usually puts them down for naps or gives them sips of his water.  He loves to swaddle them, and is usually very gentle.  I know he will be a wonderful big brother, and honestly, he needs a constant playmate already, so hopefully this baby is ready to go as soon as he/she arrives.

So yes, this is the reason for my strange comings and goings.  I am just about 12 weeks along, and my energy is starting to return.  I have realized that I have been so behind in completing so many little tasks that this week was "complete all the little ridiculous and good things I put off so that this weekend is relaxing."  I am so glad to finally share this good news with you all, as it will now be okay to mention "pregnancy" here on the blog.

In conclusion

Please keep in your prayers all those who are looking for work, as well all those who are hoping to conceive, or carry a baby to full term.  Please pray for all those NICU babies and parents, especially those who have no idea when they can bring their baby home.

I wish you all a very wonderful weekend!

xoxo, alex