Monday, April 25, 2011

He is Risen!

Unpacking the 'Alleluia'!

Ready for Easter morning Mass

Discovering the Easter and spring books again

John Paul's handmade gift for Michael :)

Finding Easter baskets

May the joy of the Risen Christ be with you always!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Holy Week Daybook

Outside My Window: Rain.  More rain.  And the yard is flooded.  Again.  This time there is a pond in our front yard as well and I just saw a duck swimming in it.  Our basement has been flooding but as long as we keep the pump on going out the window it doesn't get too bad.  But I'm so tired of the mud-yard.

I am Listening to: The hum of the monitor and some creaking and thudding as the boys wake from sleep

I am Grateful for: Feeling more and more nauseous which is bad-good.  And exhausted.  I am grateful because it gives me some peace of mind that the baby is okay.  Such a mixed bag, though...because I'm already missing that burst of productive energy I had when we first found out and feeling so not like myself.  But it's good and it will pass and if it means the baby is okay, we'll do it.

I am Pondering: Always pondering.  I don't know if I have a specific quote to share but I've been thinking again about how my life often reflects the liturgical year.  All is grace but I'm sure some of it has to do with the awareness of the Liturgy and the intentional living of the communal observance.

I am Reading: Still working on Interior Castle.  I can only read so much each morning.  It's getting more dense and pretty specific about St. Teresa's own spiritual journey.  I'm not sure how much is supposed to apply to every person, especially a lay wife and mother, but I'm sure it is still good for me to read.  I'm looking to find something good for our upcoming vacation.  Hoping to supplement my woeful knowledge of classic literature but with a choice that is suitable for vacation reading...hmmm...

I am Thinking: Making lists and trying to make the best use of the times when I feel okay.  So much on the plate the next few weeks...Holy Week, Easter, vacation, David's birthday...

I am Creating: I'm still working on John Paul's sweater and it is coming along.  Soon, I'll begin with the sleeves and we'll see how that goes.  I'm looking to make a gift for David for his birthday.  I was hoping to paint some wooden peg people as either our family or patron saints but I don't know if I'll get to it in time.  Otherwise I may paint some wooden eggs to put in a basket for our play kitchen upstairs. I think he'll like that.

Oh, and I am so happy with the way our icon wall is turning out!  I'm working on getting icons of our family's patron saints framed and into our library chapel room (that's what we call it...a fancy word for what used to be the front room).  I'm almost done but am waiting for some more to arrive in the mail.  And it will be a work in progress as we add more.  I really like it!

I am Teaching: The past few weeks we've been just covering the basics.  Math, Latin, history, reading.  Of course, that's more my style and how I work anyway.  All the 'extras' we are learning all the time all day long.  Lately I've realized I need to do some more teaching on virtue and discipline myself to help the boys get back on track with their own discipline.

Towards Truth, Beauty, and Goodness: Oh, my icon wall!  And attempting to entrust this pregnancy and baby to the Lord through our Lady.  Working on offering up the discomfort and pains...I am so not good at that.  Lord, help me to avoid complaining, even to myself, and be mindful that every moment, whether joy or pain, I can offer to you.

Living the Liturgy: Holy Week Plans - Tomorrow we'll head out to the evening Mass of the Last Supper.  Our pastor asked if Brian, John Paul, and Michael could come up for the rite of foot washing!  They are very excited.  And my job is to make sure some toenails are properly clipped.  Good Friday will be a solemn day of penance and cleaning as is our custom and we will attend the 3 p.m. service.  Holy Saturday will entail preparing for Sunday...I will attempt some egg coloring with natural dyes with the boys and possibly make Resurrection cookies if I have the energy and time.

Around the House: Tomato and pepper seeds are planted and starting to sprout.  I'm tired already thinking about planting and tending the rest of the garden!  Oh, and Brian built some clothesline posts for me!  It's been too wet to put them up, not to mention not nearly warm enough to hang laundry, but I'm excited to get them up and can't wait to use them!

One of my Favorite Things: Holy Thursday.  And the way the boys play Sorry! with me even when they don't feel like it :)

A Picture Thought:

Our front pond where the ducks swim

Sunday, April 17, 2011

This Week in Boys (in which I realize I need to take more pictures of the boys...)

John Paul
John Paul is almost finished with reading the Narnia series with Papa at night.  We think he's pretty sad about it.  It's been so good for his mind and imagination, though, and has helped us tap into that playful side of him.  He's been so sweet about the baby and is really trying to help me out.  He's spent a good deal of time in the basement this week working on his projects, one of which is a wooden camera to bring on our trip.  He got the plans from a book and Brian's been helping him build it.  Non-working of course, but it has a roll of paper on the back that you can wind and there you sketch your 'photo' - very clever.

Michael has really taken to the Stations of the Cross.  He has them almost all memorized and really enjoys doing them.  I love when I find (or am led to) something that speaks to them so personally.  Part of it is that it's much more sensory than the other devotions we have had.  He likes visual things and learns well that way.  It's different for me but it will stretch me in my teacher-mode to help him learn the way he needs.  I just love that he is learning to love our Lord more.  The other day he was making a picture and declared, "this is for Jesus because I really like Jesus."  And when he blesses the baby at night, he makes a cross but has to add a circle (head) and eyes and Jesus' body onto it.

David's been moving to a different sleeping pattern lately which has been a little tough, especially now that I am feeling more and more of the first trimester exhaustion.  He only wakes twice at night but he had a great pattern for a while that was once around midnight or so then a long stretch until 5:30 or so and go back down, at which point I would get up anyway so it felt like only once to me.  But now the stretches are shorter and I know he is cutting another tooth so I'm hoping that's part of it.  Poor guy is such a hard teether.
He is still wanting to do whatever the big guys are doing.  The last few nights he has been insisting on 'knitting', which ends up looking much like Michael's but lasting a much shorter time.  "Knit, too! Knit, too!"

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Best Treasure of All

So we told the boys the other night that we are most definitely welcoming a new little one into our family!  Now that they are old enough, I wanted to do something special to let them in on our secret.  So...I wrote out a treasure hunt for them to complete.  David was a bit young to get it but the older two had a great time on their hunt!  We got most of their hunt on video so there aren't any pictures of them on the actual hunt but here's a little peek into what I did!

The Instructions and First Clue:

Some More Hidden Clues:

John Paul began to figure it out while reading the last clue and they were all thrilled that Mama has a new baby in her womb.  As Michael said, "A baby is the BEST treasure of ALL!" Within 10 minutes of finding out, John Paul had his knitting needles out and was working on a hat for the baby.  David had fun reminding us that he is still the baby for now...

Afterwards we had a little celebration dinner, which for our high standards meant homemade stromboli eaten in the living room.  A wonderfully blessed day and I'm so glad I was able to make the announcement memorable for the boys.  They have already been kissing the baby and blessing the little one with holy water every night.  This baby is truly blessed to have so many doting big brothers already!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

This Week in Boys...

John Paul
Getting older and older and acting like such a big kid.  He's always working on building or creating something (many things...).  He's been sewing a little basket out of felt for Michael for Easter and it is so sweet.  Completely made it up out of his head and it's a really great design.  He's about to finish his second grade math book and I can't deny that I'm proud of how well he does in math and will be starting third grade math at not even 7 years old.  This boy makes it easy.  His mind just works mathematically and logically.  All.  The.  Time.  He's been wanting to knit again at night but only lasts a few minutes before he tires of it.  He's attempting to make me a hat and it is quite amusing.

Michael has been enamored with the wood blocks.  Nothing new there but he has begun making some pretty skilled marble and car tracks all on his own.  It's really tough when David wants to constantly join in but he is more into knocking them down and tormenting Michael.  I don't like that one bit and I've had to separate them so that Michael can enjoy creating in peace.  Michael has started to surprise me often with piping into the conversation with some tidbit that I never thought he would remember from a year or two ago or with some piece of information he picked up when I didn't think he was listening.  He's also begun asking to knit in the evening.  For him this involves poking a knitting needle through the middle of the yarn in very creative ways and claiming, "THIS is how I knit."

I love this stage he is at intellectually.  He is learning so many words and is using them all the time.  My favorite right now is his way of saying "sure" rather than yes.  It comes out more like "sha" and he has a knack for saying it like it's just no big deal to whatever it is you are asking.  He repeats everything we say during conversation.  It's like having a little parrot at the dinner table.  He still loves to read and his current favorite is "Day" which is actually titled I'm Thankful Each Day. A really cute book and he has learned how to end most of the pages with the correct word.  He still loves The Animals of Farmer Jones and I just love his animal noises.  His current favorites are elephants and owls. Love it.

On the other hand, he has been really difficult with the other boys.  I have slowly started to implement corner time and he is learning to apologize.  He has begun the whining repetition in order to get what he wants and that drives me crazy.  Hoping he outgrows it soon and that I can patiently teach him the proper (and less drive-Mama-insane) way to communicate.  But he always makes us laugh and then all is better.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Just a Wee Bit of News

Except that it's not a little bit, except in size. It's huge for us and it's still a very happy secure
I'm pregnant
My husband is the only who knows right now.  I took the test yesterday morning and I still don't really believe it.  The line was so faint but it is definitely there and in the world of pregnancy tests, there are no false positives, even when they're from the dollar store.  But that doesn't mean I still won't be going out and buying another one 'just to make sure'!  I'm nervous that the line was so faint, however, I did test a bit early.  I intentionally chose to take the test yesterday because it was April 7, which is the day we estimate that our little one Joseph Mary entered heaven.  A year later our newborn son, Michael was Baptized on the same day...I enjoy doing things like that on special days.  I'm weird like that.  So yesterday we celebrated Michael's Baptism Day and I held a huge secret in my heart all day until I couldn't hold it in anymore and told my husband after we prayed the Hours and while we were being graced with some beautiful spontaneous prayer together.  He was so happy and it felt so good.  He also claims he "knew" I was pregnant.  I don't feel pregnant.  It scares me because the one pregnancy when I felt great, was the one in which our little saint Joseph Mary died at 8 weeks.  I am consciously trying to let go and to trust in whatever the Lord has for this baby and for our family.  Although, I am now oddly comforted by the fact that I have been ridiculously moody and on edge for a few days now...and definitely feeling like something has been hormonally off.  Maybe that's a good sign (unless you're my poor husband).  I am surprised at this pregnancy, which doesn't make sense, even a little.  For some odd reason I think part of me was thinking that we wouldn't be gifted with another child.  No reason why. But apparently the Lord has different plans and if we are blessed with a healthy pregnancy, we will be welcoming the newest member of our family into the world in the middle of December!  Oh, an Advent baby!  How fun is that?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Yarn Along - 4/6/11

So, I'm joining Ginny's Yarn Along...but I'm not going to link me in there. Is that incredibly lame? (answer: yes) My poor little blog is still so small and humble and I'm a wee bit afraid still to put myself out there where people can actually (are you ready for it?) READ this. So, I'm going to pretend that I'm in it and give a glimpse of what I have on the needles this week and what reading I'm doing...

I have decided to try my hand at knitting my first sweater. The yarn is Paton's wool in denim and the sweater will be a simple raglan sweater from a free Red Heart pattern I found on Ravelry. This is intended for John Paul to wear hopefully this fall because I have great hopes that sweater-free weather will get here before I actually finish this! Please God, we need spring! I'd love to give it to him for his birthday. That's in June so unless I get too frustrated or can't figure out the enigma of sleeves, I should be okay with that deadline!

Also in the back I have a little bitty newborn girl hat I'm working on today and tomorrow that I want to finish for my cousin's baby shower next week. That's in Paton's organic cotton. Hats, I can do (at least simple ones!) and have made 6 or so now.

I have yet to graduate to real fancy yarns from cool online stores but I hope to get there soon!

On my reading list is still Teresa of Avila's Interior Castle. This is real and it's deep. It's a bit hard to follow as she wrote it over the course of several months and she even admits in it that she can't remember what she has already written and what she hasn't. But it's good, even if lots of it will go over my head since I have yet to soar to the high heights of the seventh mansion of complete union with God :) I love how she insists that we must look inward to find God, not in a self-absorbed, navel-gazing sort of way but in a way that recognizes that truth that God truly dwells within us. It's hitting me in a new way with the beautiful way she speaks of that type of recognition of the Lord living within the soul in a state of grace.

So that's my wannabe Yarn Along post! Maybe next time I'll have the guts to really join in :)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Lenten Pretzel Making

You can read a great synopsis of why pretzels are a great Lenten tradition here

We have a lot of fun with it every year and this year, the boys decided they wanted a few cross-shaped ones as well. I used all whole wheat flour in my normal recipe and while that perfect hot pretzel crispy:chewy ratio has yet to be discovered using whole wheat, they were still mighty tasty, especially straight out of the oven!

Friday, April 1, 2011

On Doula Work and Writer's Block

I should have known this would happen. For over a year now, I've written blog posts in my head thinking that someday, maybe, Lord willing, I would actually write them out and hit 'publish'. They were good, too. Or maybe they weren't. But they made sense in my head and were thoughts and memories I wanted to share and remember. And now, once I finally get the nerve up to start typing, the words don't come. I question what to write, how to write, whether this or that topic is too delicate to share, whether I will hurt others by my thoughts or opinions, and of course, what is my true motivation behind wanting to write.

It's like this with so many things. I question the whys and hows rather than just trusting that if the Lord wants it to happen, it will come to pass, provided I remain in Him and allow Him to take the lead and use me for His glory.

And it's like that with this doula thing. For the first time in a very long time, I knew deep inside of me that the Lord was asking something of me. That it was HE who put this passion inside of me and that it would be HIS work. I put it off for a year while it rested in the back of my mind, though two or three times I did make an effort to look into training workshops during that time. One was cancelled, one we decided was too far away and we couldn't figure out how to manage with hotel rooms and a nursing little one to tend. Then it worked out. And I happened to notice a posting for doula certification training that would be held right here in Western New York. The organization is certainly not as well known as the other national certification programs, however, the requirements were very similar and I felt a small sense that the Lord's hand was in getting me involved locally with this organization for reasons that perhaps I will post on in the future.

And so I attended the workshop. And then within a few hours of sending out the email letting friends and family know that I was working on this and that I would appreciate them keeping me in mind, I received two emails from expectant mothers who were requesting more information and were interested in my attending their births. Wow. This was really happening and it was exhilerating and frightening.
I have since attended those two births and both were absolutely amazing. God was so present and one little girl and one little boy entered the world naturally without drugs and I got to be there. I got to be there! What a privilege and blessing it was to witness these women surrender themselves to the gift of birth. What joy it was to be there as she pushed that slippery little body into the world and to see the pride and exhaustion and unguarded ecstasy and love on her face! I learned so much and, especially with the second, felt like I really had made a difference in helping this precious little boy come into the world naturally and gracefully. I was humbled, challenged, exhausted, completely alive. God was there and is working in all of it. Not only allowing these women to birth so beautifully, but in my role there. I have said from the beginning of this little journey of mine that if I am able to help only one little one enter the world more peacefully and without unnecessary intervention and callousness, I will feel blessed. And I do. So very blessed. But I think there is more and I pray I am ready for it.

I do question now. Who do I think I am, putting myself out there like this? I know a lot, but I'm certainly not an expert on birth. Why would anyone want ME to share this intimate, blessed moment with them? And then I remember, it's in His hands. It's His work. It's not about me but about Him and them. If He sees fit to use this little cracked vessel to do His work, then perhaps it will bring Him joy and even greater glory. I don't know and in most ways, it really doesn't matter why. A doula's role is to serve. I will choose to follow and serve and be profoundly grateful for each little way that I may be used to further His kingdom. There is much work to be done.

Someday when I can get my thoughts together more, I will post on why birth matters. Why He most certainly does care about the way His precious little ones enter the world. Why these decisions are so important and why the WAY in which we do things makes all the difference. Someday, I will share why birth is so profoundly spiritual and why it is His work coming alive in our very own bodies. Until then, I pray that He will continue to clean this little vessel and repair any cracks that are found so that it can be used more and more for His purposes and glory.

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