"When we had our children, our ideas changed somewhat. Thenceforward we lived only for them; they made all our happiness and we would never have found it save in them. In fact, nothing any longer cost us anything; the world was no longer a burden to us. As for me, my children were my great compensation, so that I wished to have many in order to bring them up for Heaven" -- Saint Zelie Martin, mother of St. Therese of Lisieux, canonized October 18, 2015 along with her husband St. Louis Martin.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Life is Crayzee :: A Daybook

I've had so little time for blogging lately!!  Lots of home schooling, basketball, and housework these mid-February days.  

Outside my window:  Friday was a ridiculous weather day with gusts of wind around 50 mph.  It blew ALL day.

The morning sky was glorious.  There was lots and lots of "melt".

Saturday left us in pools of mud.  My kids had the best day ever.  Our basketball hoop broke free of the mound of ice and snow it was locked into after the plowing and was finally rotated towards the driveway.  Muddy muddy hands, and fresh rosy faces.  Leave shoes outside, happy Mom inside. :)

Saturday night babysitting:  Arwen babysat my niece last night.  My niece is 4 years old, so Arwen spent her evening in the company of this little friend.

Am I getting carried away with all of the pictures?  Too many?

And she got paid for this!?!!

"Cute and Cuddly things" revisited:  Remember that it wasn't just puppies I was excited about last week!  Someone made her entrance into this world!!  It's a girl!! I'm an Aunt like 20-times over, and it's eversy bit as amazing, wonderful, joyful and love-filled with this new precious!

I didn't obtain permission to blog this one, so I'm taking liberties and just sharing a couple that I am personally fond of.  My hubs:

He's so cute with babies! You have to know that he's secretly terrified.  Yes, father of ten (or 8, count how you like).  

 And this one of me.  I barely got to hold my newest niece.  Eowyn was having NONE of it.  She screamed and cried, and made my niece cry, and I had to pass the baby back to my sister.  But I got this one moment of love--can you see I'm in heaven?! (Ok, maybe I just blinked, but I read heaven!!)

So now it's Sunday: We were slow on the uptake this morning and had to head to our neighborhood church instead of to the parish we belong to.  Eowyn is into wearing "a pretty dress" every day, which is not possible.  A "pretty" dress is not just a cute play dress.  Nope.  It's full-on Easter Sunday.  Think crinoline.  (I store our girls' old fanciest dresses in Eowyn's closet, which is where this all began).  Well, today being Sunday, Eowyn "talked" me into wearing her Easter dress.  It's sleeveless, as fancy dresses often are, and I couldn't find a sweater.  Then we couldn't find tights.  She needed a diaper and her hair combed too, and we were minutes away from the time Mass starts.

 My husband managed a diaper and the hot-pink flashing-light tennis shoes I bought for her yesterday.  No sweater, tights, or hair combing.

I might have died a thousand deaths on the way back from communion.  I tried to grow in humility.

The thing is, my other kids looked pretty good!  I even curled Arwen's hair!  --sigh--

I try.

Plans for the week:  Gimli has his final tournament game today.  They're in contention for first place.  Poor Aragorn was in contention for last, and they lost.  We're just games away from wrapping up this season.

I've got to do a serious Lenten purge!  "40 bags for 40 days" style.  I'm determined to clear this home out.  Some people can organize.  I have no abilities in this area.  All I can do is get rid of our possessions.  Then I clean, and we live in relative order.

Relative, that is, to the number of people who live in this home.  And relative to the fact that we all NEVER leave!!! Homeschooling does have that added aspect: it's at home.  A good place to be, but the  mom doesn't really get the family out from 7:30 am till 3 pm (plus sports practice).  But of course, that's one argument FOR homeschooling, too.  Perspective, right?

Ignore the buddhist references, and this book is my philosophy in a nutshell!  Highly recommend…but not if you're awesome at storing things.  In that case, pack-rat away!:)

Enough deep thoughts out of me--hope you are enjoying your Second Sunday in Lent!
Have a good week!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Catching Up Daybook

Outside my window:  Sunny, and absolutely freezing!  Wind-chill advisories are out for 25 below between midnight and tomorrow morning.

From the kitchen:  lots and lots of tea.  I'm lamenting the loss of my favorite tea ever!! It was a Trader Joe's seasonal vanilla and cinnamon tea that my sister gave me as a gift last fall.  I'm almost through a tin of holiday tea from my other sister, and after that…I have to go shopping!  Next year I'm stocking up!

…and meatless meals.  Lent inspired: tonight I'm making eggplant parmesan.  Last night I made spaghetti squash.  I usually make that with regular spaghetti noodles for the kids, but was surprised to discover I am completely out of noodles!  So, yes, shopping.

Living the Liturgy: Lent is here!  We got our ashes on Wednesday.  I won't complain about not having sugary drinks…like hot chocolate or honey in my tea…because that's what I gave up.  I'm not complaining.  I will say that having sub-zero-freezing-cold days to start this season off is very appropriate for my particular little sacrifice. ;)

I'm gearing up for next week's co-op.  I've got exciting craft plans that I hope will turn out to be fun for the kids.  With the ages ranging from 14 down to toddlers, I'm going to try to have something for everyone.  The theme is Lent!  So, jelly jars for "sacrifice beans".  And if I'm lucky, we'll make our own little pocket oratories!

Cute and Cuddly things:  This world needs more openness to LIFE.  Now, life causes messes and demands things of us.  Life is hard work.  But, I think we need to agree, life is also worth it!  What in the world am I talking about?

Puppies.  And newborn babies.  I wouldn't place them in that order except that in my extended family, they are coming in that order.  This afternoon I met "Cricket": my sister's brand new Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.  If anyone is feeling depressed, can I just recommend a puppy?!  Sooooo cute!  Cuddly! Warm, soft, 8 weeks old.  I might have left a piece of my heart in my sister's living room.

Luckily, I get to bring one of these beauties home with me!  I'll take her!

And babies: my other sister is OVER due.  C'mon little bambini--come out!! Prayers for a safe delivery welcome!  My sisters are all champion birthers--none of them have had an epidural.  I'm pretty sure none of them ever screamed profanities either.  So wish I were part of their club.  Well, I guess I've got quantity over quality on my side. lol

If you aren't won over by the pictures, you may not be an animal person.  Or maybe just not dogs?  I get it.  But I'd still recommend houseplants and flowers.  Must infuse winter--February in particular--with LIFE!!  (Unless you're an avid bird watcher and backyard wildlife observer.  Then you don't have to bring anything in and I give you a pass.  Here's looking at one of my favorite sisters, who is very bursting with life--inside and out!  But not so much on pets.)

I am reading: Too many books on my nightstand!! Sally and Sarah Clarkson's "The Life Giving Home".  Recommended by Elizabeth Foss.  Gleaning for inspiration…my eldest daughter might be terrible about mocking Sally's sweet tone.  It might be a little cheesy, but she's right (Sally, not my daughter) about what makes a home and why creating one is so important.  That and an amazing little classic "Searching For and Maintaining Peace" by Father Jacques Philippe.  Got worries and anxieties? Read.

Baby Reveal (yes, I'm just sneaking this in here):  How to say this?  I had my 20-week ultrasound on Monday.  I know I was confident, yes, some might even say smug, about "knowing" what I am having.  Just to brag give a little background on that confidence: I had no ultrasounds with my last two home births.  I got out the pink for Rosie and blue for Legolas.  No gender neutrals.  I went all in, including buying rose bedding for Rosie and Peter Rabbit for Legolas.  And I was RIGHT!  Both times, with SUCH CONFIDENCE.  I can't tell you how I just KNEW, but they felt 100% "girl" or "boy".

I thought it was the same this time.

I mentioned before that I had prayed for the intercession of St. Maria Goretti when her relics toured the US for the first time in history and landed at the parish church less than a mile from my home.  I prayed there twice and included prayers to her murderer, Alessandro.  When I discovered I had conceived a new baby within the week, I immediately began to think of my baby as "Maria".

Maria Grace, Maria Felicity…but always Maria.  Sometimes I'd play around with other names I love and put Maria in as a middle name.

For 20 weeks.

You know where this is heading.

The ultrasound!  With such confidence I told the ultrasound tech (who knows me pretty well by now) that it's a girl.  I actually mentioned that at least two or three times before she went for the "reveal".

And oh-my-baby-BOY!! It was NOT "Maria" in there!!!

I humbly, and really very joyfully relinquish my smug and confident role of baby predictor.  I was dead wrong!   This is me, eating my hat!

Truth?  It's been an adjustment to my brain to wrap my mind around "boy" when I was soooo sure "Maria" was my little one on the way.   But not an unhappy adjustment.  From the moment we saw, my husband and I burst out in laughter and tears of joy.  And the picture on our fridge looks JUST like Legolas!!  Too too cute!

So…I've got 20 weeks to work on boy names!

Have a great weekend!!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

February Blues

I began blogging (again) a couple of years back when I encountered a "30 Day Challenge" (was it 31 days?) to write on the same topic for that many days.

Amazingly, I thought it would be a good idea to address my challenges with postpartum depression.  I think I might have lasted a week.  It wasn't the most cheerful start to a blog.  But the posts are still up in the archives if you wanna track 'em down.

Luckily, I'm not postpartum at the moment.  I do know that depression can strike during pregnancy is a rather high percentage of women.  But, thankfully again, I'm not suffering at this precise moment.

I think it's really hard to write about.  I think it's harder to admit that it's something you struggle with.  Somehow there's a sense of shame that seems to be attendant to admitting emotional struggles.  And I think that those who have not had to suffer these issues have a really hard time compassionating those who do.

I also know that depression tends to come seasonally.   Solstaces can be hard my chiropractor tells me.   The darkening days of fall, and, I would argue, that lengthy stretch of winter that is post-holiday-cheer and not really anywhere near Spring.

I have a simple strategy that does not stop the emotions from coming (I'm not sure we are capable of that).  But to help cope when the waves surge (and they do ebb and flow).

I think the best advice I have is to try to find a balance between pampering yourself and pushing yourself.

Vigorous exercise gets endorphins a-flowing, and it does lift the spirits.  The more strenuous the exercise the more beneficial.  But of course, if you feel like curling up and dying…maybe you don't start with that.

Maybe you start by creating a little corner of peace.

Light a candle near a cozy armchair.  For me, silence is healing.  If you are a stay-at-home mom, the shouts and cries and whines of many children can be painful to frayed nerves (cue Mrs. Bennet).

Read the Bible, write in a journal, or simply sip tea slowly.

Then, maybe, dust a mantle or clear off one surface that has built up clutter.   If this doesn't apply to your life, great, but I think all of the mess of being at home with lots of children really grates upon ones sense of calm.  A quick pick-up and maybe a vacuum.

Simple, concrete steps towards "being a good mom"…making something simple for dinner, but serving it with peace and spending that time of loving presence to your family.  Even if you retire to the couch after you eat.  But maybe you rally for a quick storybook to the little ones before bedtime.

Just small, simple steps.  With frequent rests.

Little treats: tea with honey (I'd really recommend avoiding coffee and chocolate if depression is bad, but I would always make an exception for coffee in the morning), a nap, flowers from the grocery store.

And then, when you can, a session of exercise.

Finally, if you can find a project of some sort: Spring cleaning, quilting, scrapbooking.  Something that you can chip away at a little each day, but something that you enjoy and look forward to each day.  It helps you want to get out of bed in the morning, you know?

Until the season passes, and it's not that hard.

Just some coping strategies that have helped me.

[And I'm no doctor, so I'm excluding clinical cases that require medical attention.  There's my disclaimer:).]

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Candy before Lent

Yesterday our homeschool group met in a big room beneath our local library to celebrate St. Valentine's day early--so we could eat candy without worrying about breaking Lenten resolutions!  (Lent starts on February 10th this year, so the 14th is a hard day for a Valentine celebration).
Score!!  I'm a total homeschool mom nerd, but I get a HUGE thrill out of a new stash of pencils!  Thank you Valentine take-home treat bags!! (times 8 kids)
I took the opportunity to lead the kids through the free Pro-life lesson plan Jessica posted about in January.  I didn't own Eric Carle's "The Grouchy Ladybug", so my husband obliged me and picked it up just for this occasion.

I embellished with the extra "ladybug" books I found on buy shelves.  

After learning about the legend of how the ladybug got it's name, and talking about praying to Our Lady to protect unborn babies, we headed off to do some ladybug crafts!  (Thank you Michael's craft store!)

These were a little tricky for our youngest crafters, but with a little help they did great!  Decorating them with stickers was easy!  Plus, the heart stickers tied in the Valentine's Day theme in perfectly! yay!

 We finished up by reading about St. Valentine.  Last year one of the moms read this one:

 So I skipped it this year and read this one instead:

We came home to eat our candy and read our Valentine's!

Bilbo told me that one of the Valentine's he received (a Disney princess one) said "You're a snow queen, Valentine!"…I told him that a) the little girl who gave it to him cannot read yet and b) people don't really read the Valentines as they fill out the names.  Haha!