Monday, November 29, 2021

Raining Donuts

I tip-toed into the dark bedroom and gently shook my sleeping children. "It's time to wake up for Mass," I whispered. "And then donuts." One child sat straight up and immediately began talking about donuts. Ah, the plan worked, I thought to myself. Waking my children in the very early morning, to attend early morning Mass on a weekday, went so much smoother with the promise of donuts. 

Before we knew it, the children and I were dressed and zooming across the city in the minivan. We scampered into the daily Mass chapel and prayed peacefully throughout Mass. Since we've had some rough daily-Mass-going experiences lately, I was pleasantly surprised by my childrens' calm. After Mass, they excitedly told the priest about how we would go eat donuts, and soon we were zooming back across the city to a donut shop. 

Unfortunately, our favorite donut shop was closed, so I had to find a different one (with good ratings). We parked, the kids dashed into the store, and I was greeted with a lovely sign that said only cash would be accepted for orders below $5.  I don't carry cash with me, so it was back to the car to scrounge up any and all loose change. We re-entered the donut shop, and while my children excitedly stood in front of the case and tried to decide what they wanted, I scattered a variety of pennies, dimes, and nickels across the table to try and count how much money I had...and then try to figure out if it would be enough to cover the particular donuts that my children requested. After counting and re-counting and re-counting (along with my children changing their minds a couple of times), I finally decided that we'd just buy more donuts than we "actually needed" so that I could pay with my card. Moments later, happily filled with donuts (and with some donuty goodness left over to snack on throughout the day), we went home to change into our "day clothes" before going to a story time at the park. 

Attendance at story time was low; it included our family, a woman with her granddaughter, and the librarian in charge. Then, another family showed up: a young mom corralling her five children (all under the age of six) and carrying two dozen donuts. 

It was raining donuts that morning, and I'm not necessarily complaining. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

With Thanks

For my husband and sons who play soccer under a sliver of moon as I hold the baby and rub my toes in the dirt, content to be together as a family on this beautiful evening walk...

For the sight of tiny fingers clenching fistfuls of red, orange, and brown leaves before scattering them to the wind...

For wrapping up in blankets and strolling through the cemetery as we utter prayers for those who have died...

For drinking mugfuls of warm apple cider "to make our tummies feel cozy" as we read Paddington  together...

For kneading freshly-ground wheat into loaves of honey-touched bread...

For hearing Scripture verses about death and the Second Coming when we attend Mass...

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

An Open Book: October 2021 Reads

It's hard to believe, but we're already in November! In some ways, it felt like October flew by, and also lasted forever. It had a lot of ups and downs for me over here, and I was pretty mentally exhausted for some of the time, so it was a slower reading month for me-but I read some very thought-provoking books. It's time to link up with Carolyn Astfalk's An Open Book to chat about literature! 

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Choosing a different path: Alessandro Serenelli and the dignity of life

Several years ago, I breathed in the sea-air of Nettuno, Italy. I shared an enormous pizza with my fiancĂ©, looked for seashells, and frolicked in the breeze. I also knelt in prayer in front of the relics of St. Maria Goretti, a saint beloved by many. As a young girl in Italy, she strove for virtue and holiness. One day, a neighbor, the nineteen-year-old Alessandro Serenelli, threatened and attempted to rape her, and stabbed her over a dozen times before she died. As she died in the hospital, she uttered her final words: “I forgive Alessandro Serenelli…and I want him with me in heaven forever.” This happened in 1902, in Italy.

Alessandro was filled with anger and hatred and began his lengthy prison sentence. During his time in prison, St. Maria Goretti appeared to him and offered him her forgiveness. After this, Alessandro sought God’s forgiveness and mercy, steeping himself in prayer. After his release from jail, he reconciled with Maria Goretti’s mother, and became a lay brother for a community of Franciscans—an order which focuses intensely on repentance and the love and mercy of Christ. 

His life was filled with joy, peace, and quiet service. In 1950, Alessandro was able to attend the Mass for the canonization of St. Maria Goretti, and after his death in 1970, a letter he had written—a spiritual testament—was discovered, in which Alessandro reflects that “Now I look serenely to the time in which I will be admitted to the vision of God, to embrace my dear ones once again, and to be close to my guardian angel, Maria Goretti, and her dear mother, Assunta.” The witness and legacy of St. Maria Goretti and Alessandro Serenelli is a powerful glimpse of what God’s mercy and love, working in our lives, can look like.

If Alessandro lived in modern-day Oklahoma, he would probably be on Death Row. 

Thursday, October 28, 2021

That they may be one

The table was laden with bean salad and brownies. Ever-present mugs of coffee were prepared, lifted, sipped. My elderly neighbors and I sat together, and my toddler scrambled from lap to lap and across the rug. As we talked and laughed together, I realized what day it was: October 31st, 2017. Across the world on that day, people were celebrating the five hundred-year-anniversary of the Protestant Reformation; a movement which, ultimately, furthered division within Christianity. And on this day, this anniversary of an attempted-reform-turned-revolt, we gathered at table together: individuals from the Assembly of God, Disciples of Christ, Salvation Army, and Catholic church. Together, we shared in the joy of God’s blessings as we cemented bonds of community and love. We enjoyed the food and drink that we each offered freely.

 A simple afternoon spent with friends; a small step towards greater unity within the Body of Christ.

“I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me.” (Jn 17: 20-23)

 That they may all be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me...

Thursday, October 21, 2021

A Homeschooling Snapshot: Fall 2021

I spent the first several years of my life as a homeschooled student, and I know that a typical "homeschooling day" can look completely different from family to family. At one point when I was young, there was a family in our homeschool group who exhibited a fairly unstructured "unschooling" lifestyle, and another family in that same group who opted for a highly structured approach. However, no matter what a family's particular approach to homeschooling is, the flow of the day commonly is different than that of a full-day brick-and-mortar school. 

Watching a demonstration by a Mounted Color Guard. 
It was very cool when they began hacking the balloons with their swords!

Many times, I've thought about doing a "day in the life" post, but since that would involve taking pictures and making notes from a particular day, I decided that I would put together a general overview of what our weekdays typically look like. Even with unpredictable events and a couple of regular activities, we somehow manage to keep a fairly consistent schedule for Monday-Friday. Perhaps, when my kids are older and life gets busier, I can look back on this post to remember the gloriously peaceful days of our "quiet growing time." 

As of now, in Fall 2021, my kids are ages 5, 3, and 1. In Oklahoma, school is required for five-year-old children (and full-day kindergarten here is the norm), but there are no requirements for homeschooling. So, we really have the ability to pick and choose whatever we want to do right now. My approach to homeschooling is currently very laid-back, and I draw some of my inspiration from the Montessori, Reggio-Emilia, unschooling, and Charlotte Mason educational movements and philosophies. With all that in mind, here's a snapshot of our daily life! 

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Macaroni Musings

We need to talk about mac n’ cheese, because apparently I have some strong opinions.

When I was a young child, I would eagerly dump packets of orange powder into the steaming pot of macaroni noodles, excited to watch these noodles transform into the glorious concoction that is mac n’ cheese. I gobbled them up, savoring all of their fake-cheesy goodness. There was just nothing like it. Years later, when I got married, I decided that I would make mac n’ cheese for a meatless meal. However, rather than fly to those convenient boxes of my youth (which, while delicious, were not very filling) I decided to prepare homemade mac n’ cheese. I happily made a roux, cooked it into a sauce, added real cheese, poured it over noodles, and was filled with pride at my culinary pursuits. Those were the days when—as an excited newlywed—I plunged myself wholeheartedly into homemaking (in between college classes) and operated under the belief that “homemade is always best.” (Yes, those were the days when I even made homemade flour tortillas and, on occasion, homemade noodles)

Homemade mac n’ cheese was good, but it definitely lacked that delightful zest of the boxed variety. It wasn’t until a few years later when a coworker gave my husband the best recipe for mac n’ cheese; the ultimate recipe that we periodically prepare (and enjoy immensely).

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

An Open Book: September 2021 Reads

 Another month is here, so it's time to link up with Carolyn Astfalk and chat about books! Without intending to, I wound up reading books that mostly aligned with the theme "the culture has some big problems." So, if you want upbeat lighthearted reading, move along. For those who want to stick around, let's dive in! 

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

A slow homeschooling approach

I've read that homeschoolers generally begin each academic year with tremendous momentum, planners and detailed lists in hand (as someone who was homeschooled until seventh grade, I can personally attest to this). With gusto, they jump into concentrated study, co-ops, and organized activities. By the end of winter, their energy may slow as they push through core subjects. The knowledge they started the year out strong gives them hope; the recognition that at least we got a lot done in the beginning. 

And then there's me. 

I arrived at the year's beginning with fairly relaxed homeschooling plans, and even those have slowed dramatically. We don't have the excuse of a pregnancy, new baby, or  major move, either. We have absolutely no excuse for moving at a snail's pace, aside from one: we're really enjoying a slow education. 

My three-year-old was a little unnerved by the huge tortoise
that kept trying to climb out of its enclosure, but it was pretty cool to see. 

The term "slowschooling" popped in my head as I began this post, and lo and behold, plenty of other people have already created hashtags and articles about this topic. There's comfort here, in knowing that I'm not the only insane homeschooler who is trying to step away from the rat race of education that sweeps through countless communities. As my husband and I tell our sons all the time, whether they're running down the hall to the bathroom or sitting down to eat dinner, "it's not a race." 

I've been trying to ensure a quiet growing time for myself and my kids, and it's honestly incredibly refreshing and liberating. We are learning, pursuing virtue, having a ton of fun, and simply enjoying the gift of life together. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

An Open Book: August 2021 Reads

Happy September! It's time to link up with Carolyn Astfalk's An Open Book to chat about what's been on my reading shelf lately. There's a few interesting historical pieces and some fiction (including a fun apocalypse novel). Let's dive in! 

Friday, August 27, 2021

Ms. Frizzle still has a lot to teach us

The moment the upbeat theme song begins, the nostalgia washes through  me, bringing joyful memories of childhood bliss and delight. The original 1990s show, The Magic School Bus, is truly a wondrous experience (let us refrain from discussing the debacle that is the remake). 

Brought on a desire need for a small break, my recent decision to bring a small dose of "screen time" (and this cherished television series) into our life has filled my children with joy. They eagerly sit, paging through a Magic School Bus book on the ocean. They excitedly watch an episode about ants, entranced by the story. Even though they become more invested in the characters than in the science, I know they're learning good things about the natural world and storytelling. It's a great show. Admittedly, sometimes once I've made my coffee and taken a breath (standing in a room by myself!), I'll sit with my kids for a moment, so that I can enjoy this beloved childhood show once again.  

I forgot just how amazing Ms. Frizzle is. 

The spunky schoolteacher is always ready to teach science, and her clothes speak volumes about the fabulous ways we can craft our wardrobes. Yet, she does so much more. Her zest for life is contagious, and I find myself thinking that, all these years later, I can still learn a lot from Ms. Frizzle.