Monday, February 27, 2012

A Lenten Monday Morning

Outside my window...
A gray February morning.

Thankful for...
A baby who sleeps.  Luke is amazing.  I hesitate to share this because I know how many moms are currently sleep-deprived and feeling crazy.  I've been there.  A lot.  And I know I should be prepping myself for things to change.  But for now, I'm totally okay with him keeping up this super happy awake and sleeping through the night thing.  Note to other (new) parents:  this is not normal so don't expect it and thank God and enjoy it if it happens.

Thinking about...
How good social media and networking can be.  Like many people, I have a love/hate relationship with it but there really is so much good to be found.  I have learned so much through others sharing their lives via blogging and have reconnected with old friends and found new ones via Facebook and different communities.  It is an awesome opportunity for evangelization and fellowship that our world has never before had.

And thinking about Sarah.  I am just so very happy for her and her family, which I think is what prompted my musings on the whole social networking thing...

Last Friday I took the boys to a town hall meeting with our Congressional representative.  There was a standing room only crowd with all but a handful there to discuss the HHS mandate.  It was quite the learning experience for all of us.  On the way there, we discussed why we were going (age appropriately) and the structure of our legislative branch and how Congress works.  On the way home I answered questions about what we saw and how she answered the questions.  Homeschool civics class at its finest.  And I did it with all four boys.  On my own.

Oh, and I got on the local news as did Luke in all his moby-wrapped cuteness. 
(Note to self:  You have perfected the 'deer in the headlights' look when approached by a news reporter and a microphone is thrust inches away from your face.  Good work.) 

From the kitchen...
Guess what, guess what, guess what?  We're getting a new refrigerator this week!  Yes, we still don't have one!  But after a very very very long process, we finally got Bosch to send us a new refrigerator.  We had to go through the Better Business Bureau and even after that, they still refused to replace the refrigerator.  They wanted to simply give us our money back which, since we got such a crazy deal on it, would not have covered the cost of even the most basic of refrigerators.  And as per their own warranty and U.S. warranty law, what they were trying to do was illegal.  Our last ditch effort after finally tracking down the corporate offices worked and the new fridge should be here this week!  It is going to feel like such a luxury after two and a half months without one.

A real Lent for myself and the family.

I am going...
To work on more read alouds with the boys.  We're half way through The Jungle Book.  It is a good thing for all of us.

To be able to celebrate our ten year annivesary this year with something special.  A trip?  A real family vacation (out west is what we've been hoping)?  Those are the only ideas I've come up with so far.

I'm still working on Walden and it's becoming a better read.  I've also been reading a chapter from Life of Christ in the mornings and evenings.  Man, this one is good.  Every sentence Sheen writes could be a quote in and of itself and he brings so many new insights to the Gospels that I've never before encountered.  Highly recommended.

For my Grandpa as he recovers from a broken hip and continues to struggle with emphysema.  In his 87 years this is the first time he has ever been admitted to the hospital.  For real.  He was even born at home.

For a 29 year old man we know battling cancer

For John Paul as we prepare for his first Holy Communion (!)

For our country and the upcoming elections

For Sarah and her beautiful little Posy.  May they have a beautiful peaceful babymoon!

The radio and Michael and David discussing David's math book (i.e. John Paul's old Kindergarten math book) while loading nerf guns and sitting amongst Stratego pieces.

Around the house...
The Lenten reminders are up (maybe a post on that in the future?) and I'm beginning to feel the itch to start some of the other spaces we haven't gotten to since moving here.  Once Brian is done with his latest project I may just head us on over to the stairwell where there is old peeling wallpaper just begging to be ripped off.

One of my favorite things...
Luke's smiles and cooing.  He's awesome at it.  And if you sing to him he sings right back to you.  So amazing, he is.

A few plans for the rest of the week...
Welcoming the husband back from a short trip out of town, soccer, a craft night with some friends!, and we'll see what else comes up.  Hey, March is this week!

A picture thought to share...

I mean, why wouldn't you want to do your math work inside this cool new window seat??

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Glimpse Into My Lenten Observance

Normally I'd be a bit shy to talk about one of my Lenten goals for this year.  But with this one?  I think I know myself well enough to know that I'll need a little bit of the accountability factor here.  And that way you can cheer with me when it's done :)

I set a goal for myself of running a 5K this year.  I don't know why except to say that I think it will be cool to say that I did it.  And then I plan to never run again.  Turning 30 did some crazy things to me, my friends.  Running to me evokes the images and nausea that encompassed running the mile in high school.  Remember that?  The time of the school year when the gym teacher forced us with fear and trembling to run around the track while kids in math class stared at us out their window.  This was, of course, part of the 'Presidential Challenge' wherein we were supposed to believe that the president of the United States was very much concerned with our ability to touch the tips of our toes without bending our knees (Middle East peace? Pshh...we need to make sure these kids can run 15 feet and bring back a chalkboard eraser in an acceptable amount of time!!).  And the climax of his challenge to us was Running the Mile.  We dreaded it and did everything possible to get out of it.  So much so that I seized the opportunity on a church skiing trip and took a great fall tearing my ACL (see that cool knee brace?) in order to get out of it.  (Okay, not really, but it was an unexpected bonus of the injury.) 

But I got this silly idea in my head and set this goal for myself and that means in my crazy world that I have to do it.  And once I found out that my sister, unbeknownst to me, had also set the same goal...well it may as well have been a divine decree.  So we're going to do it together and maybe even be joined by a few more sisters.

I decided I would start at the beginning of Lent with training which seemed the oh so appropriate time.  And that way, the nine week program will be completed within a few weeks of the 5K we plan to run at the beginning of June.  I bought those spiffy new sneakers with some Christmas money since I haven't had a pair of new sneakers since, um, high school. I  started today with the Couch to 5K running plan that has helped non-runner friends of mine start running (they even admit to LIKING it now) and they have highly recommended it.  I even got to use my husband's fancy phone to help me keep track.   

Aaaaand...I did it!   The first session.   All two miles!   Please, God, don't let the lady in my ears say jog again. 
It felt so exhilerating!  I thought I might die of a heart attack right there on the street.  
I'm going to kill it on workout two.  If I can move my legs. 

This Lent is going to be a good one.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

On Mommy Guilt

"O wash me more and more from my guilt and cleanse me from my sin." Psalm 51

I've been thinking a lot about guilt lately. 
Maybe it's because Lent has arrived or maybe I just seem to be hearing about it more.  This phrase 'mommy guilt' seems to be all over the place and I hear it talked about everywhere.  You can find a whole plethora of people talking about how unhealthy it is, why mothers need to give themselves a break, how it is okay to have a little 'you time'.  "Mommy guilt" is bad, they say, and there's no shortage of blog posts and online articles doing their part to alleviate the guilt.

There is much truth in what I have read.  I'd like, however, to offer a different perspective, if I may, or at least add a little to the discussion.  What if mommy guilt wasn't such a bad thing after all?  What if, rather than smothering that guilt with self pep talks and rationalizing our behavior to assuage the guilt, we faced that guilt head on?  What if we looked at that guilt and determined FIRST whether it was a valid guilt or not before trying to get rid of it?  I guess I come from the school of thought that guilt is good in that it shows us when we need to change something.  If we take an honest look at ourselves, our habits and behavior, and our choices for our children, we hope to not feel guilty...and that is good.  Guilt is a sign that we've gone against what we believe to be good.  One of our goals should be to never feel guilty...but not because we've ignored or rationalized or told ourselves that particular thing doesn't really matter all that much anyway, but because we have done our best to abide by our properly formed conscience.

Of course, all of this presumes that one has (what we call in the Catholic world) a properly formed conscience.  We need to know the things over which we should feel guilty.  We need to know the things over which we should NOT feel guilty.  The things that offend God, the choices that harm our dignity or the dignity of others, the choices that make us less than what we are called and created to be...those are all things over which we should have a healthy sense of remorse and guilt.  Selfishness, pride, laziness, anger...the list goes on.  There are times when the action is not inherently sinful but our motivation behind it is.  Do we choose this thing for our child because it is the best for them or because it is easier for us?  Thought and prayer must go into the decisions we make for our children and we must constantly be trying to be the best person that we can be.  There are however, many times when guilt is an unnecessary burden.  When we know we are doing the best we can within the specific situation, even when the situation is less than ideal, then guilt is uncalled for (but we must also do what we can to make the situation closer to the ideal).  When we in our shame choose to live in guilt rather than finding freedom in Christ, guilt is unhealthy.  When we refuse to let go of guilt that has been forgiven, guilt that has been washed clean by confessing it to the Lord, then we presume that our sin can be greater than His mercy.  And it can't be.

We know there are ways that we fall short of the ideal we desire for our children.  If you're like me, it happens all. the. time.  But you know what?  We desire the ideal because we love them with our whole being.  Perhaps while we can work to address our guilt, we can at the very least let it assure us that it is a sign of how much we love our children. I would even dare to say that those who never feel guilt when reflecting on their parenting are either doing it perfectly (umm...) or perhaps have not thought through the ideal much at all.  The saints were never satisfied in how much they loved.  But we also know that the Lord's mercy is endless and that wallowing in guilt is pointless, and not a very full way to live.  So we beg mercy for the ways we have failed and we find it in the blood of Christ.  And therein, the saint can begin again and continue to strive for the ideal.

 Loving our children with our whole selves means that we want the very best for them.  We want them healthy and happy and holy.  We know that they deserve the very best from US.  When we fall short and fail in that, we feel guilty.  And that is okay.  It is what we do with the guilt that determines whether it will be for our good (and the good of our children) or not.  We can choose to make jokes about it, to rationalize it, to ignore it, to acknowledge it and yet do nothing to alleviate it.  Many of us are a combination of these things on any given day.  Or we can choose to bring our failings and guilt before Him who has paid the price for all of it to wash us - again - in His blood and we can change the behavior or choice so that we can more fully love those with whom we have been entrusted.

It is so tempting when others come to us acknowledging their guilt to want to gloss it over and alleviate the guilt rather than truly helping them work through it and find peace.  We don't like to see people suffer.  As a doula, I've been reminded of this in very visible ways.  To watch someone else in pain, especially someone you love, is hard to do indeed.  But it is their pain that they must work through.  We want to help and make people feel better.  When it comes to sin and guilt, we want them to be free of the guilt (and sometimes we also want to convince ourselves).  However, often the best thing we can do is to acknowledge the truth to what they are saying and be there to offer help in addressing it.  Attempting to alleviate that guilt in artificial ways and dismissing a valid sense of guilt does them more a disservice than not.

This Lent perhaps we can acknowledge our guilt but more than that, perhaps we can repent of our sins, and allow that guilt, or rather HIM, to change us.  Perhaps in confronting the areas where we do fall short, we can honestly assess where we need to change to live more fully the life to which He has called us.  Perhaps we can make different choices and concrete changes that will keep us from guilt so that every day we can be a little more of who He has called us to be.  Maybe we can take the mommy guilt and turn it into something beautiful this Lent, for ourselves and others.  And maybe we can begin today.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pinning It Down {4} - Liquid Hand Soap

I was excited to try this idea of turning a bar of soap into a gallon of liquid hand soap when I saw it on Pinterest. 

For the cost of about one 6 oz. bottle of natural soap, you can make a whole gallon by just adding water, glycerin, and then simmering until thick.

I've had this Trader Joe's Honey and Oatmeal soap for a while.  In fact, it's the soap I use for my face because it's so gentle.  I stocked up when I was there last and love that (at my last purchase) it is only $2.99 for two bars and lasts a long time!  So I decided to use two of these bars (8 oz.) to turn it into liquid hand soap.  I didn't grate it because it was much easier to just lightly chop with a knife.

Glycerin is supposedly found in any pharmacy, according to the site, but it wasn't until the third pharmacy I tried (Wegman's) that they had it...but you have to ask because it's behind the counter.  It was more expensive than I expected but you only use two tablespoons, so hopefully, it's worth it.

I followed the instructions and we got a gallon of soap.  It does have a bit of a snot-like consistency like the site says and you have to make sure it's not too thick so that it can work in a pump.  It took much less time to cool and firm than the site said...maybe I simmered it too long. 

I'm disappointed that it doesn't lather up the way it does when in bar form.  It actually doesn't really lather up at all and I'm kinda stumped as to why (from simmering too long?).  Perhaps a different soap would work better.  Hopefully, it's still getting us clean.  At least it looks cute in my mason jar dispenser (which, by the way, was not a Pinterest idea)!  Oh, and if anyone can tell me what to do about the powdery stuff all over the pot that's attempting to grow my rosary plant up in that picture, please let me know.  I'm pretty sure that's not a good thing.  Someday I will get a house plant to thrive.  Someday.

So happy Mardi Gras!  It'll be pancakes for dinner tonight by tradition and the boys will be thrilled.  Go on and click on the link below to head over to Sarah's and see what others are pinning down!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Just Add Water - A Recipe for Happy Babies

The recipe to calm a sort-of cranky, I'm-not-sure-what's-bugging-me baby:

Make sure you have a good pot! 

I picked this one up at a garage sale before David was born and it is so great!  While the kitchen sink is quaint, it's more about getting the job of washing done and always looked to me like a less than pleasant experience for the little baby that can't sit up on their own.

Gently place baby in water bath.

That hammock means he can chill out and enjoy without one of us trying to wrangle a slippery baby and we can keep him in as long as he's happy.  Keep most of his body in the water nice and warm.  It's safe enough that we can let him hang out (we're right there, of course) and he loves it.

Let simmer. 

We make sure the water is very warm and he calms right down as soon as he's in.  The towel on him is less about modesty and more about keeping him super warm and snug.  Get it wet with the hot water and keep it warm so that the parts not in the water don't get chilly!

Check for doneness every few minutes.  Showing him your handmade creations enhances flavor and experience and can help lengthen cooking time.

Baby should look properly done...a big, goofy grin is a sign of the gourmet touch.

Culinary delight

Upon completion, remove babe, and wrap in a warm, fluffy towel. 
Pair with a snuggly papa, sprinkle with kisses and enjoy!

Friday, February 17, 2012

7 Quick Takes - Volume 3

First of all, thank you for laughing with me at my husband.  Or rather at me and my um, quirks.  Apparently, his Gosling impression is pretty good and he's gotten several calls regarding this foray into blogosphere stardom.  I have resisted the urge to post more of the ones he made since they really wouldn't be as funny to anyone but me.  It's kind of fun realizing we have inside jokes.  And there were a few that were just not that prudent to put online ;)

I do, despite my profound humility, have to point out that the one that most people enjoyed regarding brownies in a baking dish was a wee bit hyperbolic.  Seriously, people, I birthed his child a week before that picture was taken and the pictured brownies weren't even from a box.  Credit, please?  He chose not to include the custom designed pick up truck cake I made for him the year before.  But I do think I may have laughed the most at that one, too.  This also reminds me that at some point I need to post a little montage of my cake decorating undertakings just to redeem myself a bit.

In other news, John Paul taught himself, with the help of Mama and a search engine, how to play two songs on the recorder in about 15 minutes.  I'm kind of impressed.


Amen, T.J.

Um...Lent is coming!  Why do I always feel like it takes me a bit by surprise?  Maybe it's because I know it's hard so I don't think about it until I must.  But every year I seem to need it right when it comes.  The Lord has good timing like that.  I need to get a few things prepared - both exterior and interior.  A friend just told me about a tradition she began with her family of lighting six candles at dinner at the beginning of Lent and then each week one gets blown out...sort of the opposite of an Advent wreath.  By the time Good Friday arrives, the last candle is blown out and it is dark.  I really really like this idea and will have to figure out how to make it work here.  A few friends and I also worked on some Holy Week ornaments to help our families observe that solemn time in the Church.  I'll have to finish those up soon. 

Trader Joe's is coming so very soon!  It's supposed to open up this summer about an hour away from here.  And I just found out it's in the same town as the Buffalo Bills' training camp.  For real.  I couldn't care less about the training camp, however, I'm envisioning a fun day dropping the boys off to watch football while I meander through the aisles just me and Luke in all my crunchy baby-strapped-to-chest glory while I peruse organic peanut butter and flouride-free toothpaste. 

Oh, okay, FINE...I found two more you might enjoy:

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Mailbox Surprise!

I love getting a (good) surprise in the mail and just the other day a sweet surprise came in the mail for our boys! 
They were so very excited to receive a gift from all the way across the country.  And these gift-givers knew exactly what to send to make some little boys very very happy!

And what is David wearing, you ask?

Why, it's armor of course.  Obviously.

And, because it must, the reading evolved into a full-blown reenactment.  Can you guess what role each person is playing?  Brian is playing, too, and David is tied to that chair...

Thank you, cousins Sydney and Kayleigh, for such a special gift!! 
It was a perfect gift for these boys and we can't wait to see you this summer!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Best. Valentine. Gift. EVER.

Y'know, besides that big shiny ring he got me ten years ago.  

My crazy husband had me in tears laughing with his gift for me this year.  When I saw what Ginny had going on over at her site, I was tempted to participate.  But when I asked my husband a few days ago if I could take a picture of him (and why), he just gave me that look like "woman, WHY would you ever even ASK me such a thing?"  Pretty much a look that I've gotten used to over the years.

Then today, he set the computer in front of me and gave me the valentine gift that he'd been planning before I had even brought any of that up...He made 35 of these.  THIRTY slide show format and in chronological order throughout our ten years together.  I haven't laughed that hard in a long time, I tell you.  Here are some of my favorites, leaving out the ones that no one else but us would understand...

What do you think??  I'm pretty sure Ryan Gosling's got nothing on this guy.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Goings On...and Pinning It Down {3}

We've had a busy few days without much time to step into blogland!  So how to recap the last few days? about with the randomness and literary laziness of a list?  Yep, that sounds good.

I got my husband to eat Indian food!!  While that might sound somewhat uneventful to some of you, I assure you this was a big deal to him.  I've been nagging encouraging my husband to try new things.  When it comes to food, that definitely goes against his nature but he's promised me he would try.  My wonderful mother offered to watch the older boys so that we could get a much-needed date night and we had a lovely dinner at the local Indian restaurant with a gift certificate I'd been saving (thank you!).  While we entertained the staff with our amateur Indian pronunciation and many questions, Luke half-slept in his seat.  We ate goat.  And paneer cheese.  And marka markhati (I think...).  And naan.  And then there were fennel seeds and coconut served at the end "to aid in digestion."  I ate a few spoonfuls.  I'm pretty sure that was what I was supposed to do.  There was also two bowls of water with rose petals given to each of us.  I'm sort of sure they were for washing our hands but drinking it did cross our minds.  I think the staff was trying not to laugh at us but that's okay because it was such a fun thing to try something new and there was only one other table filled in the whole place.  And how sweet is it that the ladies receive a red rose at the end of the meal?  But back to my husband.  He ate Indian food.  And he LIKED it.  Score one for the wife.

Our Lukey-babe turned 2 months yesterday and we had a doctor check-up for him super early yesterday morning.  Eleven pounds and one ounce of cuteness, he is.  I can't get over what a sweet baby he is and we are so blessed with a baby who sleeps.  (Is there a connection between a baby who sleeps and parents who are able to better recognize the cuteness of said baby? Probably.)  He only gets up once at night and is taking long naps during the day.  And don't go thinking all my babies were like this.  I earned this one.  That I did.

I should comment on some of the ridiculousness of the common pediatrician visit and the handout they gave me on what to expect out of a two month old (eating four or five times in 24 hours...REALLY???  Please new parents, do not expect that.  I would actually be quite worried if that was the case.  I eat more often than that and I'm ten times his size.)  But I don't feel like going there.  Not today :)

Hi there.  I'm two months old and rockin' the smiley, cooing baby cuteness.

Oh yes, today is St. Valentine's Day! 
Yesterday we were invited to Grandma's annual St. Valentine party.  A glimpse of our day:

There was Valentine Bingo...

Pin the Heart on the Monkey (of course)...

and homemade valentines...

even a few Pinterest-inspired ideas!  (Here and here)

Grandma prepared a special red lunch (dye-free...thank you, Mom!)...

 complete with heart-shaped sandwiches and special love notes from Grandma and Grandpa. 

We had so much fun that when we pulled into the driveway...
this was the scene in the back of the van.  Can you see all three?  A partied-out bunch :)

Later on today, we'll be celebrating with just our family with heart-shaped pizza for dinner and valentines made for everyone!

We've filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau regarding our still-broken refrigerator.  Yes, still broken.  It's been deemed unrepairable but rather than replace it as the warranty explicitly states, Bosch is trying to just give us back the amount we paid.  Well, we got a crazy good deal and what we paid won't even buy the most basic of refrigerators so we want them to honor warranty law, stand by their product, and replace the fridge.  Hopefully, there will be a good update on this saga in the near future.  For now, I'm sort of used to not having a fridge besides the little dorm-size one and the porch.  When we finally get a replacement it will feel like such a luxury!

This was the scene we walked into the other day:

Bible study, homeschool style.  They seriously all had Bibles and were comparing and contrasting the stories.  I'm glad we caught a picture because it sure looks impressive, doesn't it?  Don't be fooled.  I'm sure within minutes of this serene moment there were blocks to be fought over or something.

So that's been a small snippet of the last few days or so!  I hope you all have a wonderful feast of St. Valentine (and Ss. Cyril and Methodius...those poor guys so get the shaft)!  You can see more Pinning it Down over at Pam's this week!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Yarn Along 2/8/12

Guess what?  I wrote a little pattern!  I know, it's nothing fancy or complicated or all that special but I'm a little bit proud of it :)  I know it could probably be tweaked a bit but it worked for what I wanted it to be used.  I posted it here.  So this week, with said pattern, I worked on these:

 And made this:
 (I know, I should've taken down the wreath for the picture...)

I love that each of the hearts only took about five minutes to make so I could work on it here and there during the day when I had a moment.  I was going to knit an I-cord or crochet a double chain to hang them on, but realized I actually liked the look of the line thinner (and it was way easier!) so I just used a bare strand of yarn.

As for reading, I've made it through a few more pages of Walden.  At this rate, I should make it through two or three more classics before retirement age.  I just find that when I have down time at night, I choose to knit and stare at the t.v. spend quality time with my husband and then reading takes a back seat.  I did peruse This Old House magazine yesterday.  Does that count? 

Oh, and I finished those fingerless gloves I was working on and really love them!  They are super warm and proved my skepticism wrong.  I need to reknit a cabled earwarmer to go with them.  I did finish one (with my own pattern again...what am I turning into?) but it turned out a tad too small and squeezed my head.  So I need to add a few more stitches in and try again.  I bought some more yarn that I may use for John Paul's sweater that I need to start.  I just can't seem to find a pattern I love and I'm terrible at picturing and choosing colors with different patterns.  I think part of me is a little intimidated to start a bigger project like that, too.

Thanks again, Ginny, for letting me part of the Yarn Along!  Head on over to see what others are creating!

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