Saturday, January 17, 2009

Must read for Moms

Ann writes over at one of my favorite blogs...

Love is patient. How can I be patient in the tipsiness of this domestic chaos? How can I be patient in the pain of now? When vocal cords pitch screams, when tears brim and fall, when the clock keeps ticking steadily ahead and we just keep sputtering, stumbling along? I want to strive ahead of now, into that future where we all stick to the script of buffed perfection.

Read the rest...
The Order of Love

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Simple Woman's Daybook, January 12, 2009

Outside My Window...
It was so icy cold this morning when I took a short walk! But now it is sunny and the sweet sounds of the Safeway being constructed across the street are echoing through our courtyard. (Oh, to have toilet paper and dish detergent within walking distance again soon!)

I am thinking...
about how to healthfully, economically, and creatively feed my family in this new year. Our number one resolution is avoiding most packaged foods.

I am thankful for...
My husband's continual forgiveness and for his community, the Youth Apostles, with whom he just spent a good time retreating up in Emmitsburg.

From the kitchen...
Butternut squash souffle, chicken in white wine sauce, egg noodles, and greens.
I am wearing...
An almost-two-month old baby in a moby wrap (oh how I love all these baby carriers!). Underneath tan cords and a printed sweater.

I am creating...
nothing much material at the moment. Hopefully, slowly, peace and order in our home.

I am going...
to the midwives for a postpartum visit on Wed, and maybe (oh exciting) out to dinner with Michael on Friday!

I am reading...
Jesus of Nazareth by Pope Benedict XVI
Leap of Faith by Queen Noor (for my book group)
Letter to Families by John Paul II (for my couples' group)

I am hoping...
To continue with the halting steps we have been taking as a family towards having a more regular prayer life.

I am hearing...
Baby breathing, and a beep on my cell phone, which means a mommy friend from the neighborhood is probably letting me know where afternoon playtime will be! So good to have people nearby for Gabriel to socialize with.

Around the house...
I keep finding cotton balls everywhere... someone's brilliant idea at library story time to give the kids "snow" to take home. It was fun for a while, but it's getting a little old...

One of my favorite things...
Chocolate chip cookies, mom's recipe with half vanilla and half almond flavoring.

Friday, January 09, 2009

From Car Talk to the Trinity

(Spoken as we are driving home from dinner at Grandma's...)

Gabriel: "Mommy, what was that clicking noise?"

Me: "I just locked the car doors."

Gabriel: "Why did you just lock the car doors?"

Me: "To keep us safe."

G: "Why do you keep me safe?"

Me: "Because I love you."

G: "Why do you love me?"

Me: "Because you're my son."

G: "Why am I your son?" (Well, he couldn't quite figure out the grammar of this one but I understood what he meant when he said "why are you my son?")

Me: "Because Mommy and Daddy love each other."

G: "Why do you love each other?"

Me: "Because God made us to be like Him."

G: "Why did he make us to be like him?"

Me: "Because he wants us to share his life forever."

G: "Why?"

Me: "Because that is God's nature."

G: "Why is that God's nature?"

Me: "It just is."

G: "why is it just is?"

Me: "... because it just is."

G: "Oh. Mommy, is this the Beltway?"

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Matters of the heart

Prayer over the People for the Feast of the Holy Family (Year B)

you care for your people even when they stray.
Grant us a complete change of heart,
so that we may follow you with greater fidelity.
Grant this through Christ our Lord.

A complete change of heart. The words pealed like bells in my soul on the feast of the Holy Family. The words struck me--could one really pray for such a radical gift from God? Would it not seem more prudent to pray for small improvements here or there, or extra grace in areas where we struggle? This is not a prayer for those who want to wade in slowly, getting used to the waters of a life lived in Christ's foosteps. No--the Church encourages us to jump straight in without looking back. Reminds me of JPII calling us at the start of the new millenium to "go out into the deep" (Luke 5:4) , to duc in altum, and of his fatherly advice to "be not afraid", given at the start of his pontificate.

I have been praying sporadically, perhaps desperately at tougher times, for grace and understanding in my relationship with Gabriel. Last night I finally threw in the towel on those piecemeal efforts and decided to trust that what the Church prays, I too can pray. I begged for a complete change of heart, to allow me to see Gabriel as a little person who needs to be lovingly, creatively, and energetically taught, rather than a two-year old terror who needs to be controlled.

So much grace was poured out on all three of us today--Gabriel, Peter, and Mommy, home on our own for a few days while Michael is on retreat--that I have to say that I think my prayer is on its way to being answered. I don't have time to give all the details, as bedtime is quickly approaching. I'll finish with one sweet moment: I have been struggling with Gabriel's interactions with Peter being a little bit too rough--playfully rough, but nevertheless, too much for a 2 month old. Today while Gabriel was brushing his teeth, Peter was watching him intently from his snuggled position in the wrap. Gabriel stopped and said in a very loving voice, "Peter, when you get older, you can brush your teeth. And when you get older you can wear pajamas. And when you get older, you can play with me!" It almost seemed the complete change of heart was spilling over--improving not only Mommy's interactions with Gabriel but his interactions with Peter.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

A Prayer Challenge for the New Year

We're both Catholic. We married in the Church and value our faith. We both know the value of prayer, want to/try to/actually do pray every day on our own, and both pray with our children. Why can't we seem to pray together...?

All these questions filtered through the lips of almost every couple at a recent monthly meeting of our couples group. My husband and I are part of a movement called Teams of Our Lady, a lay-movement within the Catholic church that "offers couples a way to grow in married love, happiness, and holiness." As part of this group, we commit to a series of "endeavors" or basic practices that we will pursue as spouses for the purpose of building up our conjugal (and personal) spiritual life. This month we will be focusing on the endeavor to find time each and every day to pray with one another.

It would seem to be a simple thing, prayer with one another. But one of us falls asleep nursing the baby sometimes, and the other one of us falls asleep telling stories to the toddler, or when one is home alone while the other is out working, or when one is grouchy and the other is hurt, or when one is busy late into the night and the other is tired, prayer together becomes a bit elusive. Prayer together, if it is honest, is also a moment of extreme vulnerability. When we have drifted apart due to schedules or disagreements, coming together for prayer points out the abyss between us with a silent rawness that I can't stand... so I admit that sometimes I avoid it.

Yet I know that prayer can be a moment of healing, an anchor in a marital life that is being tossed on the waves of schedules and new jobs and a two year old who confounds us. So I look forward to the challenge of praying with one another each day this month, the quiet moment before sleep when we come before God together in humility, with gratitude for the day past and hope for the day ahead.

(Are you up for the challenge too? You're welcome to join in with your spouse and/or community and let us know how it goes!)

Monday, January 05, 2009

Simple Woman’s Daybook, January 5, ‘08

Outside My Window...
It is a middle-sort of day, with cool gray skies and only a here-or-there breeze. I’ve already been outside twice today, once on my own and once with the boys to “get some wiggles” out of Gabriel before lunch time.

I am thinking...
About how to best organize our home. One of my new year’s resolutions seems to be (never made any officially but they seem to be popping up nonetheless) that the mess in the house will not be MY mess. Gabriel’s toys may be strewn about, but if all the grown-up stuff has a proper home and proper order, I think I will be much more at peace.

I am thankful for...
Gabriel taking a nap in the middle of the day. It makes afternoon so much more bearable because he’s not at the end of his energy rope. Instead of getting sluggish, being over tired makes him get gets more and more crazy.

From the kitchen...
Leftover pasta with slow-roasted cherry tomatoes, a simple salad, and homemade bulghur-wheat bread. Tomorrow we’ll do a black bean stew in the slow cooker, over rice.

I am wearing...
A month and a half old baby in a sling! And brown cords, blue flowered shirt with dusty purple shirt layered underneath.

I am creating...
a new, more patient, more generous way of interacting with my 2yr old. Honestly, this takes up much of my creative energy throughout the day! Instead of saying "Time to brush your teeth", this morning I said "WOW, you have stinky dinosaur breath!" Brought him into the bathroom with no complaints!

I am going...
To donate many baby items to the crisis pregnancy center ASAP! Peter dutifully napped this morning and Gabriel “fixed his lawnmower” with his new tools all by himself, so I was able to organize all the items, bag them up, and set them by the door. This sounds like not a big thing, but I’ve been waiting weeks to do this!

I am reading...
Raising Your Spirited Child:A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, Energetic, by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka.

I am hoping...
To continue with the halting steps we have been taking as a family towards having a more regular prayer life.

I am hearing...
Swallowing from a little nursling with big still-blue eyes.

Around the house...
Things are more organized... but still not squeaky clean. Still not on top of that. Not sure I can claim a newborn as the reason, either.

One of my favorite things...
Peter’s baby smiles.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week:
Gabriel and I will out the “Terrific Two’s” library story time, as well as bring back the armload of Christmas books we have in the library basket. Michael will be heading off to a mostly silent retreat this weekend starting on Wednesday evening, so we will have a long stretch of time with him gone... but we will by no means be alone, with evening visits to both sets of grandparents scheduled and birthdays to celebrate.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

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