Top 10 Posts of 2016!

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Merry {7th day of} Christmas, and a Happy New Year’s Eve to all my lovely readers! I can’t believe Baking Humble Pie launched its first post two years ago today. It’s been an adventure, for sure. New friendships forged, babies born, battles fought, and so many lessons learned, and so much love + grace.

For those who have walked with me this year, who have offered prayers and held space for hurting hearts, I thank you from the bottom of my own, full heart for being here and for being you. To the newcomers just dropping by, welcome! I can’t wait to get to know you better in 2017.

Before we sign off on 2016, though, I thought I’d do a countdown of the Top 10 Posts of the year here at Baking Humble Pie.

For the record, I did not include any of the posts in our wildly popular I Don’t Do It All series, many of which did make the Top 10! I want to give a special thanks to all the amazing women whose words of wisdom and grace have made the series such a fabulous success. I can’t wait for more installments in the coming year!

(If you’re curious, you can check out last year’s Top 10 here.)

#10

A Day in the Life {with 5 Kids Under 9!}

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This is the first time I’ve ever done a day-in-the-life post, and it was a ton of fun! It seems like it was fun for a lot of you to get a peak behind the scenes into what things are really like around my house on an average day. Given the fact that this was written over the summer (i.e. not during the homeschool year) and I had a newborn, I’m not sure it’s very indicative of what today might be like should you happen to drop by. Which, by the way, could be a lot of fun. We should do that sometime. It makes me think I need to do another of these sometime early on in 2017!

7:00 am – wake up, squeeeeeeeeeze into my running clothes to go for a jog on our neighborhood trail (I’ve just been able to start jogging again post-baby, and I am loving the endorphine boost!), shower, get dressed + put on makeup 

#9

Honey: A {Home}Birth Story

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Considering that this {birth}story was a huge part of my year, I was so happy to see it made the Top 10 of stories you enjoyed, as well. Life with little Honey (not her real name) has been such an amazing grace these past 7 months, and I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us in the year to come. But this is where it all began, and what a beginning it was!

Honey was my second home birth. (Yes, we planned it. As Jim Gaffigan says, “Just to make you uncomfortable.”) People have asked me how this birth was, and the word that always comes to mind is hard. I don’t think this is a particularly comfortable response for most people to hear. Especially moms who are anticipating a future birth of their own. After four kids, I think most women hope to hear that my fifth birth was a breeze–that she practically popped right out! (How I wish.) That’s just not how it happened, though.

#8

Answering Large Family Comments with Grace

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This one was born out many a vent-fest with fellow mamas-of-many. Oh, the witty comebacks we come up with when we’re alone together in the aftermath of the latest smart-aleck who dares to shout across the parking lot, “Don’t you know what causes that?!” Yes, Blunt and Nosy Stranger, we do. And we are quite good at it. But, the temptation toward snark is strong, at least for me, and though it can be fun to laugh over clever quips in the company of friends, I realized that I wanted some real responses to share with the vocal strangers in my community who are understandably fascinated by my larger-than-average brood. A lot of prayer and humility went into the months and years that it took to think up this comments–and then start putting them into practice. I believe that most of the comments that get our mama bear hackles up are usually kindly (if not always politely) meant. I wanted to respond in kindness, with politeness, in the conviction that a well-timed word could easily open up a door to friendship, faith-sharing, or just some much-needed human decency in a world where snark is cheap and grace so precious.

It started when I had three children. The comments. From family and friends–and from total strangers at the grocery store! I do understand. A large family is a lot to take in, especially if you don’t know us. You may see my four little ducklings in line, belly swelling with #5, and sure you might have some questions.

#7

The #1 Secret to JOYful Motherhood

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This was actually my very first post of 2016, and it has gotten a lot of love these past 12 months. It’s a lesson that was so important for me to learn, one that I keep needing to remind myself of, because it can be tricky to hold onto on the hard days. For all the mamas out there who are feeling burnt out, worn down, and inside out: I feel you, sister. Hold my hand and hang in there, because this one’s for you.

My mother’s prayer for me as I grew up was two-fold: She prayed I would be healthy, and she prayed I would be happy. As a girl, I tried hard to live up to those prayers. As a woman, however, I have discovered that life is not always so simple. We cannot always be healthy. We cannot always be happy. We do, however, have the power to always embrace joy. When I first became a mother, I wanted the same things my mother wanted for me. I wanted my children to be happy and healthy. I wanted to be a healthy (read: capable) and happy (read: cheerful) mother. But time tells all, and what it has told me over eight years of parenting four precious small people is a truth I obviously needed to relearn.

#6

One Month ~ Living Life on the Back Burner

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You’d think after 5 kids, I’d have this postpartum thing down. Turns out, not so much. I make as many mistakes as the next mama, but I have learned a few things: about the necessity of slowing down, the gift of giving myself grace, the blessings of surrender in a stage that demands so much. Because it is a stage, a phase, a moment, and oh, how fast it flies. I’m so grateful that this time around, I’d learned enough to truly enjoy it.

I like to think I’m invincible. (Who doesn’t?) I don’t like to admit that stress–even the low-level, everyday sort–effects me more than it would if I didn’t struggle with anxiety. I like to think that now, after all these kids, I’ve got it all together. The truth is: Birth leaves us broken. A beautiful, blessed broken…but broken nonetheless. In body, in spirit, in heart. I just went through profound pain to build and deliver a human being into this world. My heart has torn itself beyond my body to breathe on the outside. I need to honor that. I need to honor the healing, the time it takes to learn to be without that piece of my heart.

#5

On the Anniversary of a Suicide

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This is actually one of my most-read (and most-shared) posts of all time. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I wrote it nearly 2 years ago, on the 5th anniversary of my father’s death. It’s probably one of the rawest pieces of writing I’ve yet shared with the world. I am grateful it has been so graciously received; more importantly, I hope and pray that it has given some measure of peace, validation, and comfort to those who have, like I, suffered the loss of a loved one to suicide.

It’s been five years since my father tied a rope around his neck and jumped. Five years since a co-worker found his body hanging from the rafters of a warehouse. Five years of shock worn down to grief and the waves that ripple out so wide I sometimes have to stop, look back and wonder where it was exactly that they started. I’m not the first of my friends to lose a parent, and sadly, our numbers seem to grow year by year. We all miss our mommies and daddies, and there is a sort of cold comfort in that. In knowing we are not alone. But I still can’t help thinking there is something different, something strange about a suicide.

#4

Super-Moist Chocolate Peanut Buttercream Cake

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I kinda slacked in the recipe department this year. (Sorry, y’all.) I think it may have had something to do with a pregnancy and, subsequently, a newborn. That morning sickness/sleepless nights combo really cramps my culinary style. But, it obviously didn’t trouble y’all too much, because this recipe from two years ago continued to get a lot of loving in 2016! Definitely the most popular recipe at Baking Humble Pie to date–and one of my family’s absolute faves.

So this fall, my parish was offering a “couples night” where married couples could drop their kids off at childcare, watch a short video, and then run off for a date with a printed sheet of questions to ask each other. The videos were lousy, but the questions weren’t bad. All sorts of fun things to dig into the past, present, and future of your marriage in a fun and enlightening way. Nothing too deep. Just the good stuff. (And speaking of the good stuff, have you read the title of this post? Chocolate. Peanut butter. Cake. Yeah, we’re coming to that bit.)

#3

Q + A: Why I Veil in a “Normal” Parish

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This was the second-most intimidating post of the year for me to write. (The most intimidating post also made the list–capping it at #1. Evidently, y’all like it when I get uncomfortable.) Joking aside, though: 2016 was tough emotionally. Especially with all the election hullabaloo, I was finding myself really wishing I was a turtle and I could tuck my tender self away inside a nice, hard shell to wait things out. So many labels, so much judgment. It was painful. So, putting out a post where I confess to treasuring one of the most contested, conflict-riddled customs of Catholicism (which is controversial enough, amiright?) was not high on my list. After getting enough sweetly earnest questions from you beautiful readers, though, I decided to go for it…and I’m so glad I did!

Now, since most of you have never been to my parish, let me tell you: we are not Traditionalists. Our priests celebrate Mass in English. We have female lectors and altar servers. Most women wear jeans to Mass, and almost nobody covers their head. In fact, I’m pretty sure I could count those of us who do on one hand. All of which begs the question: Why did I start veiling?

#2

Are They Worth It?: A Pregnant Mama’s Thoroughly Unsolicited Tieks Review

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This one was just so much fun, and I got a kick seeing that it came out as one of my most popular posts of the year. For those who missed it the first time around, I won’t give you any spoilers. Just an honest, unsolicited review of some highly coveted shoes. (Warning: May include unabashed gushing over my favorite online shopping addiction: ThredUp!)

So, maybe you’ve been hearing through the grapevine about these things called TIEKS. Or, as my bestie puts it “the fold-y shoes.” Those turquoise-soled status symbols are popping up everywhere. On Pinterest. At your play group. And now, at my place! First off, let me just say: I am not getting paid for writing this. Confession #2: I bought my pair (barely) used. I admit it. I am a ThredUp junkie. Now, I will be honest, I have seen TIEKS for sale on ThredUp exactly one time in the two-ish years I’ve been browsing there. And they just happened to be a color I love. And they just happened to be in my size. And they were 80% off! I didn’t even discuss it with my husband. I threw them in my cart and clicked purchase! If nothing else, I wanted to be able to try them on and see what all the hype was about.

#1

5 Way to Raise a Rapist

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Y’all saw that one coming, right? The most controversial topic of the year made it’s mark at #1. This post took a lot out of me. I can’t tell you how many edits it went through before I was willing to hit publish. Hot button issues is simply not what Baking Humble Pie is all about. Given all the tension raging through our nation and around the world this year, I was hoping to make this space a haven from all the hard. But sometimes, something happens, and you find that you can’t stay silent and–perhaps more miraculously–you discover after a lot of listening that in spite of all the noise, you actually have something worthwhile to contribute to the conversation. Such was the case with this post. There were a lot of things that went down in 2016 that I actively decided not to comment on here: my choice of political candidates, Black Lives Matter, the police shootings in Dallas, Brexit, Aleppo–because quite honestly, there’s nothing I could add. But the Stanford rape case. As a mother–a mother of sons, a mother of daughters–I discovered I could speak to this one issue. And so I did. And if the emails I received from many of you are any indication of this humble post’s reception, I am very glad I decided to speak out this once.

Brock Turner’s face is everywhere these days. And well it should be. Women need to know what to watch out for. It’s not always who you think. Sometimes it’s the talented athlete, the baby-faced Ivy leaguer, the boy who had it all–so he decided he could take even more. Take what wasn’t his. As a mother of daughters, I want to do everything in my power to protect my girls from boys like Brock. As a mother of sons, I want to do everything in my power to raise men like those heroic bicycling Swedes. And yet, I am raising my children in a rape culture. There’s no denying the tide and times are against me. I’m no sociologist. I’m no social worker. I’m just a mom looking at the world around me. And here’s what I see. These are the 5 trends I believe are contributing the most to producing and maintaining today’s rape culture.

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Well, that’s a wrap!
All sweetness + grace to you and yours. 2017, here we come!

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