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Hi and welcome to Coffee and Pearls, 15 minutes of wisdom for Catholic moms. I’m Sterling Jaquith, and today we’re talking about the 10 things I learned during the pandemic summer.

Number one, puppies are really hard and I used to own a puppy boarding company where I would board puppies for one to three months for other people. I still think that having a puppy is very hard. And part of that reason for that is that a puppy doesn’t have a soul. When you’re taking care of people who do have souls and then your puppy who doesn’t have a soul eats your shoes or your pencils or your books or whatever, it’s very difficult to stay calm and to deal with that, especially while you are working on raising little saints for Christ. It was just a lot harder than I thought it was going to be.

We got a border Collie puppy who turned out to be a half border Collie, puppy, half Jack Russell terrier, puppy, and Jack Russell terriers are one of my least favorite dogs and and she is very much a Jack Russell terrier. But of course we had fallen in love with her by the time we figured that out so it was too late. But I will tell you that it helps when we exercise her a lot. So I’ve tasked the oldest with doing that. I will say, “Can you run her around the block please?”And then she’s a better dog. A tired dog is a good dog. But just in general, if you’re thinking about getting a puppy and you have a lot of little children, maybe think twice about it, or maybe borrow someone’s puppy for two days, because that will give you a pretty good idea of how consuming it is and how noisy and messy and difficult it is.

And the problem for me certainly is not that I don’t know what to do. I’d know exactly what to do. She’s just low on the totem pole and I don’t have a lot of extra time to do it. And perhaps one of the mistakes was that none of my kids were clamoring for the dog where it’s one of my good friends, her 13 year old got a golden retriever puppy, but it’s his dog. So he does almost everything. She does very little with the dog. And, and that seems to be a much more rewarding experience and much more harmonious for their family. So just wanted to share that, that I learned over my pandemic summer puppies are hard. I think that’s why God made them cute. So you don’t strangle them, you get close, but then you’re like, Oh, you’re super cute. I guess you can live to see tomorrow.

Number two, I am now batch cooking Sunday breakfast. Anything that was individually made baking goods wise. So I, instead of making muffins or pancakes, I haven’t tried this with cookies, but I guess I could do it with cookies too. Instead of making individual muffins or pancakes, I just pour them into a baking dish and I bake them all at once. And then I cut them into bars and it makes the kids just as happy as if I had done it individually as pancakes or muffins. So I have my friend Liz to thank for that. She made me, she made her kids, you know, these, these pancake bars. And I was like, that’s amazing. And I’ve been doing it ever since. And it has been absolutely fantastic. I don’t eat those things. But my, we do make something fluffy after mass on Sundays for the kids.

It’s like our second breakfast, like we’re hobbits.

Number three, I have been going to bed earlier to try to get more sleep without waking up earlier. So I was reading that we need at least eight hours of sleep, but not eight hours in bed. And so I’ve been trying to be in bed for nine hours to try to get eight and a half hours of sleep. And I’ve been hitting that number actually pretty often. It takes a lot of intentionality. So I don’t mean to say that it’s easy. It takes a lot of communicating with my husband and putting kids down at the right time. Not looking at my phone, you know, an hour before I even get in bed. Then I get in bed and I pray, I do read on my Kindle with blue blocker glasses.

But I read fiction so that it doesn’t, you know, rile me up since it’s silly to say that nonfiction riles me up, but it makes me excited. And then I have a hard time sleeping. Cause I’m thinking about all the awesome things that I just read. Whereas if I’m reading, you know, an easy going fiction novel, it tends not to do the same thing. So I want to encourage you to spend more time in your bed to get more sleep. It is worth it. It makes almost everything else in your life better. I know it feels impossible to pull off, but it is absolutely worth it. Number four, don’t eat four hours before you go to bed. This has really upped my game for weight loss, but also health in general. I think when I hit my goal weight, I’m going to continue doing this.

They did a study on women with breast cancer and all these women, they measured all these women. The ones who stopped eating four hours before bed time had a 36% reduced chance of the cancer coming back. That’s a huge number by the way and that was just one small example of what I read. There were many health benefits to not eating for hours before bed. So I go to bed at 9:30 and so I’d stop eating at 5:30. Now, because of intermittent fasting, I actually stop eating at 4:30, but that’s a totally different thing. I would stop eating at 5:30 even if I was not intermittent fasting. So I just want to encourage you, especially if you’re trying to lose weight or if you’re trying to beat some sort of health chronic health issue that you stop eating four hours before you go to bed.

Number five, turns out you can kill pothos plants. They lied to me at the store and said they were very easy, but they were not very easy. And I managed to kill my pothos plants and my peace lilly plants. And here’s the thing. Plant people are like, just water it once a week. Right? It’s so easy, but they don’t tell you how much. And I’m pretty sure in the end, I’ve figured out that I overwatered them, but nobody told me how much to water them. So I feel a little bit grumpy about that. But I did buy it Z plants, which are lovely. Don’t require a lot of light or water. And so they’re my new favorite plants. And so they are living in my living room and they are still alive. I’ve had them for many, many weeks now.

They’re not as pretty as pothos or peace lilly plants, but they’re alive. And so they are winning in my book. So I thought I would just share that for those of you who had tried to add plants and you asked for the easy ones and you still kill the easy ones. In my opinion, the Z plants are very easy and people don’t say that often enough.

Number six, I have discovered that my family does not know how to express their feelings very well. During this time I read several books. One was How We Love, which was a marriage book. And it basically said most of us do a terrible job of expressing our feelings very clearly, which is true. Then I read another book called Running on Empty, How to Recover from Childhood Emotional Neglect, which was very interesting by the way. I think a lot of people come from good families, but had emotionally neglectful parents.

And it feels incredibly validating when you read that. Cause you’re like, I know I had a good childhood, but something wasn’t right. And it kind of breaks down all the different ways in which parents can be emotionally neglectful but still look really good on the outside or even be really well meaning, but just kind of bungle it because they themselves, you know, might have been emotionally neglected as children. And so that book echoed the same thing. Both of those books had a long list of feelings, words in the back of the books. And then because of that, I went and purchased Generation Mindful, which maybe you’ve seen on Instagram. It’s a little new age for me. So I do like the core of it and I really liked the calming strategies. I just don’t totally love the cards. That’s just have very, I don’t know, like Eastern language.

So I kind of pulled those, I sorted through them and just kept the ones that I felt comfortable with or I wrote on them and change the wording to make it more Jesus centered. So someone should make a Catholic version of that. I feel like it would be successful. Maybe Ginny Kochis, I feel like she’d be great at that. Anyway, maybe you have your heart strings being tugged on right now and you should create this wonderful kind of like teach kids their feelings, but in a really anchored in Jesus kind of way. So we’ve been doing that as a family. It’s been awkward and I think it’s just anything new is awkward, where we have to acknowledge, wow, we really, we’re only using the easy things. Like I’m mad, sad, upset, but there are so many more ways to describe how we’re feeling.

And we need to get really comfortable saying how we feel the other book that I haven’t finished, but I’m reading right now is called Non-Violent Communication and it has radically changed the way that my husband and I speak to each other and not a lot of books really radically change us. And this one has, and again, it’s still like awkward and uncomfortable. We’re working through speaking in this other way. But it’s amazing and wonderful. And it has been so great even though the book has been difficult to read and, and the practices are hard to do because it almost feels like learning another language. So that is one thing I learned over the pin that makes summer, we don’t know how to express our feelings very well. And so I’m going to be focusing on that a lot in the next couple years.

Number seven, a Costco pool was way more awesome than I thought it was going to be. My husband wanted to get a Costco pool and I just pictured everyone drowning or me freaking out about kids being in the backyard or having to clean it or dealing with bathing suits or just, you know, all that stuff that moms think about. And it was not all of those things. You can take the ladder out. So then my older kids knew not to get in it and my younger kids couldn’t get in it. So actually everyone just kept playing in the backyard and it was fine. My husband did the chemical stuff. We came up with a system early on for bathing suits and towels and going to the bathroom. And then the kids were just kinda on their own and did it. And it was really pleasant. We also swam almost at the same time every day. So they weren’t asking me all the time, which is nice.

I was worried about that. So we had to buy it at like February when it still felt like winter in Boise, but that’s how Costco is, you know? And so then it just sat in our garage for the many, many months until it was warm enough to pull out. So I’m just telling you for next year, when you see the big Costco pools, at least in my experience, I felt like it was really worth it and awesome. And I was happy. We got it. I’m sure it did kill the grass underneath it, but we decided that was a worthy sacrifice for a really awesome summer.

Number eight, you can come back from a really deep marriage wound. You know, it would be so easy to say that something happened between my husband and I, like, it’s so easy to talk about an affair. Right. It’s so clear. And everyone’s like, yeah, I get that. That would be super painful. Nothing like that happened. We just had kind of a rough time, I think, readjusting to each other, maybe after all of the bedrest and babies, it’s like, we kind of came out of the fog and had to stare at each other. And there was just a lot of like tension and yuckiness and some really bad conversations. And I just remember many days feeling like someone had just like sliced open my stomach, right. I just had this awful yucky feeling in my stomach. Like I was an open wound and it was never going to be okay. It was never going to be better. How could I ever laugh with him? Kiss him, play with him, snuggle with him, all of that. How could we come back from this?

And we have. We’ve actually, praise, God just had a really wonderful two weeks, which you know, is not 10 years, but I’ll take it. We, haven’t had a really wonderful two weeks in awhile of silliness and playfulness and hope and excitement and just some feelings and words that were not there for a long time. And so I just want to share with you that if you’re going through something like that, like there is hope. I know sometimes it feels like it will never come back or we can never, never overcome or go back to a fun light place. But, you know, that’s just doubting the power of God, right? God can overcome our God is bigger than our marriage problems, you know? And he cares about them too. It’s a big deal to him. He cares about them and he sees it. He sees us, he sees our struggles and he is bigger than whatever you’re going through. So just hang in there.

Marriage is built on a sacrament and that is very meaningful. It means something, it means God is there. And with you, he will not leave you. And he has a plan for helping you get out of where you are now. And it may take a long time. It may take years, and I’m not really great with things that take years that is pretty disheartening and frustrating to me. But I will just tell you, after the last two weeks, I have a lot more hope for my marriage than I have in a really long time. And so I just wanted to pass a little bit of that hope on to anyone who needs it today.

Number nine, walking with a friend is better than walking alone. That sounds intuitive. But I have to say, I have not gone out of my way to find someone to walk with, even though it probably sounds like good, healthy, and romantic that I haven’t.

But I had a friend who recently just started text messaging and she, she would just be like the day of, Hey, do you want to go walking at four, four o’clock and we live 20 minutes apart, but we meet in the middle. So we each drive 10 minutes. And so I’m gone from the house for an hour and a half. So that means she and I walk for an hour and 10 minutes. Right? Yeah. And then 10 minutes on either side. So our husbands watch the kids, which is a blessing, not everybody’s husband will do that. And obviously a lot of husbands get home after four. So you pick a time, but it has just been so wonderful to do something physical, to do something without baby’s crying at me. And to just share my life with a woman who wants to talk about girly things.

And I talk to my husband about everything. We have so much transparency but it’s just different. It’s just different than getting to kind of gab with the mom who kind of gets mom’s stuff and woman stuff. And so I really, I really appreciate walking with my friend and it has deepened our relationship, you know, being vulnerable and having real intimate intimacy with someone builds such strong friendships. And, and that just takes time. And so I’ve just noticed, because we do this a couple times a week, that we are now building this friendship based on time and, and vulnerability. And it’s just been much more powerful than I thought it would be. I’m not even sure I thought about it beforehand, but I just maybe wish someone had grabbed me, you know, eight years ago and said, find a mom and walk with her once a week.

It just doesn’t matter. There’s so much power in, in that. It doesn’t matter where you walk, go walk in a boring suburban neighborhood, but find a woman drive 10 minutes to see her and walk with her if you can. And of course there are a lot of ways that that can be challenging, but just sit down and try to think outside of the box to see if you can make that happen.

Number 10, then Hallo app Hallow is so fantastic. You guys, I have been wanting a Catholic meditation like meditative app for a long time and they just nail it. It is so wonderful. They had this great meditation using the daily gospel reading. And so it just has wonderful music. I love the guy’s voice. You can set it for five minutes and then I think five minute increments all the way up to 30 minutes.

And I’ve just read so much about the power of meditation. And that really comes down to, you know, sitting down, creating space in your mind, being able to see your thoughts come and go controlling what comes in and out of your mind and just having that kind of peacefulness that you get when you meditate. But of course, it’s just usually dripping and Eastern religion practices. And I don’t like any of that. And so they just do such a great job about taking the science behind meditation, but really making it completely Catholic. So I will put a link to that. So you guys can see it. It is just been so wonderful and I’ve been enjoying it a great deal. So those are the 10 things that I learned during the pandemic summer.

In the next episode, I will give you an update on what I’ve been doing for the last three months and my next project, which is launching very soon. So I miss you. I’ve been thinking about you and thanks so much for listening to coffee and pearls and have a blessed day!