Wednesday, April 7, 2021

An Open Book: March 2021 Reads

Happy Easter! It's a new month, so I'm joining An Open Book to chat about what I've been reading lately. There are a lot of comic books, as well as a couple great pieces of fiction and a little nonfiction! Let's dive in. 

Monday, April 5, 2021

With Quiet Hearts

I gently rocked my baby as I stood in the church, dark save for the flickering candles that the members of the congregation held. The bonfire had been lit, the Exsultet had been proclaimed, and now we prepared for a marathon of Scripture readings that walk through salvation history. My pastor's voice rang out, instructing us: 

"...let us listen with quiet hearts to the Word of God."

And the question hit me: Can I listen with a quiet heart? 

Sunday, March 28, 2021

A simple flower crown

As I herded the children into the minivan one day, I noticed the purple flowers (weeds) that had sprung up in our yard. Of course! This is the specific time they come each year! I grinned, and informed my children that we would make flower crowns...sometime, maybe later. 

That week flew by with errands and appointments aplenty, and before I knew it, we were driving out of town for the weekend. I looked at the patch of flowers and sighed, sad that we still hadn't made crowns. The next week came, and even though our calendar was emptier, a myriad of things occupied our time. Finally, on the Friday of that week, we went to a park for an informal soccer club. 

As I carried the infant car seat across the grass, I noticed that a section of the field had managed to escape the mower. White flowery weeds swished and swayed in the wind. The other moms followed  the children as they chased each other with soccer balls, and I plopped down. I eagerly pulled at the flowers and began winding and braiding them together. Soon, a flower crown perched atop my son's head as he raced after the soccer ball, declaring: "I'M KING OF THE SPRING!"

Monday, March 22, 2021

Let's Prioritize our Priorities

People will talk about the elaborate foods that they are making for or with their kids. 

I'll see an article with lists of seasonally-appropriate crafts or activities for families to do. 

I'll hear about all of the elaborate homeschooling plans that various moms in my area are crafting...and the mental battle begins. 

Why am I not doing these things too? I'll bemoan my lack of put-together-ness, my disorganization, and my low threshold for becoming overwhelmed with life. But then, I remember:

My priorities are not the same as those of my friends, neighbors, or random bloggers online. 

We expend time, money and effort on the things that are important to us--or do we? I've come to realize that I may know we all have different priorities, but I fail to act like it. All of the times when I compare myself to others and plunge into guilt for not being "that mom" are moments when I forget that all these wonderful things are good, but they aren't my priorities.

It's easy to see something beautiful, exciting, and worthwhile that someone else is doing and believe that we need to be doing that thing too. When we operate under this belief, we can may find ourselves forcing our lives to look like another person's without first questioning if we really want this. 

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Open Book: February 2021 Reads

 Another month is here, which means it's time to talk books! I'm a little late on this post, because I spent the past several days powering through the rest of the book that occupied most of my reading time in February. Hop over to An Open Book to see more recommendations! 

Friday, February 19, 2021

Hello, Lent

The thought occurred to me as I slumped down the hall on Ash Wednesday evening: I forgot to do my chosen Lenten practice today. baby didn't get down to bed easily, thus presenting me with the perfect opportunity to say my extra prayers. And yesterday, I think I may have forgotten altogether (baby girl recently acquired her first two teeth and is working hard to get I'm drinking at least one cup of coffee every day now and have no memory). Basically, Kelly's post about how "You can do Lent" REALLY resonated with me today. 

We don't have a Lenten calendar, spiral (although I may do one next year, because they look awesome and seem like a great, simple visual for kids), or anything like that. We rang in Ash Wednesday with a cartoon about Lent and livestreamed Mass, because we've been living under piles of snow (praying for all of you in Texas!) and could not safely drive down our street. However, I'm finding that even putting a simple picture on our table has been a huge way to make Lent present in the life of our kids (my two-year-old, in particular, keeps talking about it). 

Yes, our now-withered Christmas poinsettia is still
in the house, because I am SO on top of life right now ;) 

I had been eagerly anticipating Lent, and was excited that this year, we would be able to walk through the whole season with our parish family AT MASS. No livestreams like in Lent 2020! So, starting off the season at home, following along with Mass on the computer, was not my ideal-but I guess it's a good way to jump right into the penitential aspect of the season. 

Monday, February 15, 2021

Is there really no such thing as bad weather?

 There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing--so claim people who write from or about Scandinavian culture. If it's cold, just dress appropriately and go outside! Enjoy the beauty of nature in all weather and seasons!  

I have preached this message to friends and family, and I've often send my kids out into chilly weather for a quick run-around in the backyard before they come running back to the warmth inside. I personally enjoy a nice walk in brisk weather, as a slight chill nips my face and wakes me up. 

And yet. 

I huddle inside and watch the fluttering snow drift and sway above the ice-encrusted blades of grass. I dash outside only long enough to toss a bag of trash into the bin. I relish the crunch crunch of the ground under my boots, but I need to get inside. Yes, I am wearing "bad clothing" for this weather-shorts and a hooded sweatshirt do not lend themselves to tromping around in freezing temperatures-however, I also just want to be in the house. In the warmth, in the comfort. There's no such thing as bad weather, they say. 

Thursday, February 11, 2021

The hundred languages of homeschooling

When I finally climbed out of bed yesterday morning and trudged into the living room, my four-year-old happily greeted me: "Look, Mom! It's the Master Sword!" As he gestured towards his Magna Tile creation, I couldn't help but think of our recent homeschooling adventures.

On several mornings, we curled up on the couch with one of Akira Himekawa's Legend of Zelda mangas. Sandwiched between my preschooler and my two-year-old, I'd hold the baby and read for nearly an hour straight. The baby would watch excitedly before nursing or falling asleep (or both), as the boys would point to the pictures and ask questions about the story. When my voice grew weary, I'd leave to work on chores so the boys could entertain themselves. Inevitably, Link, Ganondorf, and Zelda would drift in and out of their imaginative play. 

Loris Malaguzzi, founder of the Reggio-Emilia approach to education, once wrote that "The child has a hundred languages." I find myself draw to these words as I see my children engage with the world in their own unique ways. 

Sunday, February 7, 2021

To be healed and to serve (some Sunday thoughts)

"On leaving the synagogue Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them." (Mk 1:29-31)

During this ongoing pandemic, and with one of my boys struck with a bad cold (which he lovingly shared with his baby sister as he breathed in her face and smothered her in cuddles and kisses), the section of Mark's Gospel from today's Mass is timely. Not only is Simon's mother-in-law healed from her fever, but the chapter goes on to describe the many healings that Jesus conducted, both physical and spiritual. 

As I stood in my pew and listened to the deacon proclaim these words, I wasn't struck by the healings and exorcisms, as marvelous as they are. Instead, the response of this one woman looped in my mind. 

"...and she waited on them."

Simon's mother-in-law, once healed, seeks to serve. I cringe to think about all the moments when my response is the opposite. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Open Book January 2021 Books

 Another month has begun, so it's time to chat books! 

While I enjoyed reading a tremendous amount of books last year, I am hoping to read fewer new books this year. I want to dive into some hefty books that I keep neglecting, and I want to re-read some of my favorites from the past couple years. It feels strange to intentionally read fewer books, but I'm excited for my present TBR list. Today, I'm joining in with Carolyn Astfalk's Open Book linkup to chat about literature. Let's dive in!

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Old family photos

I looked at my son and shook my head in wonder. Last year at this time, you were scooting on your bottom, I thought, as he charged across the room. His feet were flying, and it was amazing to remember that in the not-so-distant past, he couldn't even crawl. 

One year can make all the difference. 

Have you ever sat down and sifted through old family photos and videos? Within a period of just a couple years, small children change and develop in dramatic ways. A newborn baby will look, sound, and act differently at one year old. A year later, that child will continue to alter in appearance and, in most cases, be more mobile and verbal. Many people are quick to hold babies as they mournfully reflect that "it goes by so quickly." 

It is normal and expected that children will undergo these--and other--changes. However, at some point in time, we can relegate this business of change and development to children. Subconsciously, without even being aware of it, we can find ourselves looking at older teenagers or adults and thinking they will never change. 

We see another person at a certain point in time and lock that image in our minds. That mental snapshot becomes our point of reference for that person's identity. Our thoughts spiral downward as our fixed mindset grasps control. They will never get better. Things will probably get worse. As we look at other people through this narrow lens, we can begin to hold the same view of ourselves. I will never get better. I can't change. I'm a lost cause.

Look again at those old family photos. 

Throwback to that one time in high school when I dressed
up as Larry Boy for "Superhero Day."