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Archive for the ‘Elegant Simplicity’ Category

I have been loathing my large grocery bill purchases for quite some time. Having dh bring home less in the paycheck might have everything to do with that… ;o)

Hair care is one of those expenses that was really eating at me. The other thing was that I really want to live a life of abundance with my family and that includes abundant health. I was worried about the cheaper shampoos and didn’t want to purchase them and just couldn’t swing the large purchase for the more expensive natural brands.

I tried this:
No Shampoo Alternative
(and I kid you not it works…)
baking soda and apple cider vinegar…whowudda thought??!

It took a little while for my hair to get used to it and I found the results to be wonderful!

My hair is long and naturally curly. There was no way I could go more than one day without washing it if I wanted it too look its best in the past. Now it still looks great on day 3 (not that I usually let it go that long) It holds its curl despite many hours of tossing and turning in bed and it doesn’t have many ‘temper tantrums’ aka bad hair days….I can’t seem to recall one since I normalized with this method. It doesn’t even get too badly tangled in the back…and feels good through the fingers…aaaah!

It took me awhile to get used to showering this way. I have to hang my head upside down and hold up sections to get the baking soda at the roots (because of the length) and then I rinse with the vinegar and continue with the rest of the shower as usual.

Now to try this on the rest of my guinea pigs I mean…family! There is one little 5yo dd with curly hair that I am planning to use this on next. Her long hair gets so tightly curled that it gets unmanageable after a good day in the yard…so the experiment continues!! …and the list of practical uses of baking soda and vinegar gets even longer!

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(more…)

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Some of my favorite workbooks can be so expensive to purchase 8 times (or more!) so I have found that an inexpensive option is making them re-usable by laminating them.

I am placing each dismantled sheet in a letter-sized laminating pouch and feeding it to my inexpensive duck laminator (that I purchased from Walmart) and storing them in my file cabinet in a large labeled folder for each dismantled workbook. I found it easy to keep like pages together by running a sharpie around the outside edge of the laminated card to tint it a bit. That way red cards go back with the red cards. When I get really good, I will color coordinate the folder to match the cards. I am just not THAT good…yet 😉

I place a few of these double-sided laminated cards out on the school shelves (separated by subject) in a magazine holder for use and replace when needed. I am still deciding what kind of marker to use for this…right now it is a marker that I keep in a little holder attached to the magazine holder and a colorful rag to wipe it off with that is pinked from a beautiful piece of remnant fabric.

This does save me a ton of visual space on the school shelves, looks neat, and you can find what you need at a glance. …that, and if my soon to be highly mobile toddler knocks it off the shelf, it is somewhat durable and I don’t have that much to pick up! 😉

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I and several of my dc are very visual learners. I hit up the thrift store recently and found a collection of small photo books (the kind that looks like a bunch of page protectors in a stiff cover) (Move over Pottery Barn Kids…learning spaces I covet on a regular basis [:$] )

photo album book had the idea of placing timeline cards in these books and having the kids narrate everything they can remember about the person and approximate time period. The beauty of this is that I don’t have to commit any one image to any one child. We can view them in the books or pull them out for a moveable timeline or play games with them…etc…

I have been known to use timeline cards on a moveable timeline….
but, this is different…fresh…new….aaand there is chocolate involved as a bribe learning incentive!
I use the cards from Our Father’s House’s program The ABC’s of Christian Culture and RC History cards.
The heck with using these hand-held books for family albums! I can make a “Jesus’ family album” for Salvation History studies…..etc… and then! I thought about having my middle aged children write the text to put in these books on the opposing page….hmmm…. I am still fleshing this out a bit. These books are right with my history center on my history learning shelf.

I have so many ideas lately that my head hurts. (Although I really think the ache is from my pulled muscle under my shoulder blade from scrubbing that one wall in the kitchen….)

I am decluttering for school. Whenever this happens, I get a better sense of what I have and what I can do with what I already got. And right now I already got too many ideas and too little of me to go around.

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Sorry about the spotty postings and the long absence.  I have had to take a sabbatical of sorts to work on new routines, my home and our new homeschooling endeavors…life has been rather stressful from outward sources as well.  This year’s educational agenda is quite different as my babies are certainly growing older without me looking.  I am tired but I am beginning to see good fruit which gives that tired a new kind of meaning.  As my grandmother would say "a good tired"…yes!  It is that!

I had a random thought the other night while watching our latest Netflix delivery with dh during our "quiet time" (meaning the blissful silence after the children are all slumbering after a long day)  We were watching an old episode of JAG and it had the JAG crew playing the chaplains in a softball game.  During said game, an issue arose that caused the game to be called off and right before JAG left, one of the chaplains said, "we will pray for you".  I turned to my dh and said, "Why is it that when you give someone the best gift that you have to give…prayer.. and you put it into words like that…especially on the "big screen", it sounds so weak and corny?"

I was just thinking of that…today…here I was with EWTN playing away on my computer and the speaker began his talk with prayer.  Now Timothy O’Donnell sounded so masculine and strong.  There was nothing corny about his call to prayer. … hmmm….

So I got to thinking…maybe it is because some persons might not really relate in a deep way in day to day things that are outside ourselves…like those actors playing softball on the "big screen"  but when we really get down to it…real prayer…and deep faith…it means more than anyone can put into words.  Maybe that is why when I think my deep thoughts out loud, I sometimes get blank looks from those that don’t have a deep attachment to prayer.  I got to say, sometimes I feel like a deep sea diver who is fascinated with the beauty and the intricacy of the world under the water and I come back to land and find that I have so much trouble communicating in a way that paints the beauty of what I see.  I have trouble making what I say hit on the heart of what I have discovered to those who don’t know and haven’t seen…yet.  Maybe I would be a much better witness if I just kept things simple…as simple as just "follow me"

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As I sit here with many windows open on my computer…searching sites, organizing bookmarks andLesson_planning_2

trying to jot my many thoughts into Word documents from my scribble books (spiral bound Mommy inspiration books gathered from the far corners of the house where they are strewed).   I am looking for inspiration as to how to piece this upcoming school year together.  I kinda feel like I am putting a 1000 piece puzzle together and sometimes even using a pair of scissors, a large mallet,  and some super-glue for the stubborn parts that I think should fit and won’t.  (I guess you could call that building an original…LOL)  I struggle a bit to make the big picture clear.  I don’t want it to be ME that gets in the way of success.  If I got in the way I would create a distorted picture like my 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle.  I need to use God’s spectacles on this project.  I gotta have a plan….a framework.  I need the proper tools and a good work ethic (including being open to use inspiration to the point of having a  willingness for perspiration..hey!  It is good exercise for the heart and that is a GOOD thing😉 ahem… and the ability to sit on my hands and bite my tongue if necessary)  and I want to build in many of the attributes of the divine builder.  I LIVE to be creative and I want to include a kind of thrill into learning….a sense of wonder.  I ask myself so much about each subject, each book, each idea… so many questions really.. like…

  • can I do this with more than one child at a time so we can involve as many of them in idea sharing and meaningful discussion and/or projects as I can?
  • is any idea or goal set for any of the children… beautiful… in some way?…
  • is it dry and boring or does it open the mind up to want to explore and learn more?
  • is it a real or just an ideal?
  • can I really do this in real time even with distractions and demands being made of me
  • will it make me a successful multi-tasker because it has an extra steering wheel built into it that helps the child to be self motivated and drive on his own at times so I am not steering allll of the time and he thinks the work is HIS and not just something I am making him do….
  • can this child find inspiration in this ?
  • can this child learn this abstract subject or can we build something that will lead them from 3D work into abstraction with seemingly difficult obstacles like math for the learning challenged…ala Montessori?

Yes, my thoughts run all over the place.  I wanted to have so many of my plans done already, but the Holy Spirit is directing me in a whole new way this time and I am trying to catch hold of that whisper He has placed on my heart.  It is like I have to keep sketching away until I can see the common thread that makes all the points come together in a usable format.  I am feeling like an evolving homeschooler…more seasoned…becoming more perfected at finding much practical living in all seasons…sickness and health.  I want to be successful in God’s terms if not in my own as well.  This is His deal anyway…He the playright and I am chief steward of the whole shebang…
No pressure ;o)…ah! to hear the words…"Well done my good and faithful servant…"

Little_red_schoolhouse_zoom_2
I want to see the potential of each child and help him fill himself with so much of life…living books, living ideas…a real learning environment.  I want him to own the information, to retain information given  and take what we have learned to new levels of understanding, new applications.  If they learn it they should be able to teach it and make it understandable to others…right?  I want them to teach me and each other.  I want to "share the love"…for any kind of discovery they make, I really want it to be contagious.  I want them to share the treasure they have found.

It reminds me of the game that my almost 12yo ds likes to play with his
siblings.  He likes to create treasure maps and leads his eager and
giggling siblings on rabbit trails finding clues to the ultimate hiding
place…He is selfless in his efforts and is very eager to see each
person delighting in the connections he sets up for each of them…He
makes it very personal and yet something for the whole of them at the
same time.  This game is played again and again…and as it is
practiced it becomes even more crafty and involved.  It reminds me also
of what every day of a good school day has been for us.

I even want the older ones to learn some Montessori presentations and like a well trained magician or actor, whichever you prefer, with a well trained eye and heart, share something AWESOME with the younger set.  I want them to learn the art of mentoring.  I also want the older ones to glean that there is a concrete reality to many of the abstract things they do now.  I want them to SEE with more than one sense how simply ordered subjects like math are so they can handle the abstract work with more finesse.  I have mentioned in the past that this technique works very well with my one dd who has some math and spelling issues.  Working with the younger ones is ironing out the kinks in some of her understanding.  She uses the natural strength and gift she has of leading the young ones effortlessly to aid her with her struggle with mastery of the order of numbers and letters.  She is looking at the whole thing from a different perspective now that she is older and it makes deeper sense to her.

I want to include training for all the senses..things to see, hear, touch, taste….Montessori presentations do this so well!…oh the fun games we could make from this idea!

I want to prepare the teacher in myself and yet want to prepare the inner teacher in each of my children using the budget God gave me, whether it be my time, money or talent. (oh the DREAMS I have for an unlimited budget…but much is to be learned by thrift too…God makes mountains out of what I perceive as my molehills….He has shown me that time and again if I have the eyes to see it.)   I have high dreams of doing more…God is giving me "sufficient" tools to build awesome structures…He must trust me a lot.  I am not overwhelmed with the prospect, quite the opposite…I see this as His great work and I am a player in it…I am awed by His way of doing things..making connections.  I can remember of a few occasions ..ok more than a few occasions… when God made a common thread appear throughout many of the subjects we were studying and it excited us to learn more…we kinda felt like we were on God’s rabbit trail…getting to know him in the beauty of nature, poetry, hear Him whispering throughout history and see His fingerprints all over this wonderful world that He created…

So I prayerfully discern…
I  want to work on development of habits and challenge ourselves with many subjects to train our minds toward good…giving each child a taste of great thoughts, ideas and art etc…I want to build in the beautiful.

  lol…I really don’t think there is a label for who we are, how we learn, or even proof of a perfectly checked off planning sheet to show we are perfect or admirable in our ideas or follow-through.  I know we could never be perfect anything, just the willing participants during  this grand time together..all be it all too short…to learn as a family…to grow and mature in grace and wisdom before both God and man.  We need a mission statement…maybe we should build that one together, too…

So then enters the time of my discernment as to how to put the pieces together and form a curriculum…I am praying about it…a novena for discernment.  At any time during the year, when inspiration hits, I hurry to type into a ready made word document or a spiral bound notebook…  Now I am taking that information and running with it.  I bookmark sites that I want us to explore together…print out booklists, pull books from shelves or  out of curricula catalogs and compile many lists for the library and then I turn around and look at the house…our learning places… and I want all my ideas and ideals compiled into  a full experience in a prepared environment.

Ok…so THAT must mean … the house needs planning too…(hmmm need to work more on that).

Constantly tweaking, I am ideally striving for chores that run themselves…like at a seasoned toothbrushing stage(you do it well without too much mental effort).

The end result, or the reality of all of this is more of a framework set in such a way that we can fall back on something when things get too interrupted by life’s events and build on something for future learning experiences.  So a framework building we go… ok lets see….to check it all off…
a framework that in addition to curricula and chores and habits training, must also include meal planning so menus are easy to prepare (and note to self…. that also includes a clean fridge) and never forgetting a deep prayer life full of meaningful encounters with God in the Liturgical year. 

I want a  stage set for success…and when this or any other of the stages I am preparing needs a good broom and a proper airing we will take the time off to set things to rights again.    So I really don’t want to have to use a pair of scissors any glue or a mallet to form my work of art.  I just want a good picture to focus on and enjoy.  I want it to be something that each child as well as myself can recognize and enjoy TOGETHER.  Am I reaching for perfection or just simplicity…just simplicity, at least I am pretty sure of this…so we can "simply live" and live fully.  Simplicity takes tweaking and work…I am up for that.  And as for live fully part, I want to live fully the liturgical year…and as a natural consequence I want us to be living our school year in the classroom of The Holy Family in a God-centered, family centered existence.

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As I sit here with many windows open on my computer…searching sites, organizing bookmarks andLesson_planning_2

trying to jot my many thoughts into Word documents from my scribble books (spiral bound Mommy inspiration books gathered from the far corners of the house where they are strewed).   I am looking for inspiration as to how to piece this upcoming school year together.  I kinda feel like I am putting a 1000 piece puzzle together and sometimes even using a pair of scissors, a large mallet,  and some super-glue for the stubborn parts that I think should fit and won’t.  (I guess you could call that building an original…LOL)  I struggle a bit to make the big picture clear.  I don’t want it to be ME that gets in the way of success.  If I got in the way I would create a distorted picture like my 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle.  I need to use God’s spectacles on this project.  I gotta have a plan….a framework.  I need the proper tools and a good work ethic (including being open to use inspiration to the point of having a  willingness for perspiration..hey!  It is good exercise for the heart and that is a GOOD thing😉 ahem… and the ability to sit on my hands and bite my tongue if necessary)  and I want to build in many of the attributes of the divine builder.  I LIVE to be creative and I want to include a kind of thrill into learning….a sense of wonder.  I ask myself so much about each subject, each book, each idea… so many questions really.. like…

  • can I do this with more than one child at a time so we can involve as many of them in idea sharing and meaningful discussion and/or projects as I can?
  • is any idea or goal set for any of the children… beautiful… in some way?…
  • is it dry and boring or does it open the mind up to want to explore and learn more?
  • is it a real or just an ideal?
  • can I really do this in real time even with distractions and demands being made of me
  • will it make me a successful multi-tasker because it has an extra steering wheel built into it that helps the child to be self motivated and drive on his own at times so I am not steering allll of the time and he thinks the work is HIS and not just something I am making him do….
  • can this child find inspiration in this ?
  • can this child learn this abstract subject or can we build something that will lead them from 3D work into abstraction with seemingly difficult obstacles like math for the learning challenged…ala Montessori?

Yes, my thoughts run all over the place.  I wanted to have so many of my plans done already, but the Holy Spirit is directing me in a whole new way this time and I am trying to catch hold of that whisper He has placed on my heart.  It is like I have to keep sketching away until I can see the common thread that makes all the points come together in a usable format.  I am feeling like an evolving homeschooler…more seasoned…becoming more perfected at finding much practical living in all seasons…sickness and health.  I want to be successful in God’s terms if not in my own as well.  This is His deal anyway…He the playright and I am chief steward of the whole shebang…
No pressure ;o)…ah! to hear the words…"Well done my good and faithful servant…"

Little_red_schoolhouse_zoom_2
I want to see the potential of each child and help him fill himself with so much of life…living books, living ideas…a real learning environment.  I want him to own the information, to retain information given  and take what we have learned to new levels of understanding, new applications.  If they learn it they should be able to teach it and make it understandable to others…right?  I want them to teach me and each other.  I want to "share the love"…for any kind of discovery they make, I really want it to be contagious.  I want them to share the treasure they have found.

It reminds me of the game that my almost 12yo ds likes to play with his
siblings.  He likes to create treasure maps and leads his eager and
giggling siblings on rabbit trails finding clues to the ultimate hiding
place…He is selfless in his efforts and is very eager to see each
person delighting in the connections he sets up for each of them…He
makes it very personal and yet something for the whole of them at the
same time.  This game is played again and again…and as it is
practiced it becomes even more crafty and involved.  It reminds me also
of what every day of a good school day has been for us.

I even want the older ones to learn some Montessori presentations and like a well trained magician or actor, whichever you prefer, with a well trained eye and heart, share something AWESOME with the younger set.  I want them to learn the art of mentoring.  I also want the older ones to glean that there is a concrete reality to many of the abstract things they do now.  I want them to SEE with more than one sense how simply ordered subjects like math are so they can handle the abstract work with more finesse.  I have mentioned in the past that this technique works very well with my one dd who has some math and spelling issues.  Working with the younger ones is ironing out the kinks in some of her understanding.  She uses the natural strength and gift she has of leading the young ones effortlessly to aid her with her struggle with mastery of the order of numbers and letters.  She is looking at the whole thing from a different perspective now that she is older and it makes deeper sense to her.

I want to include training for all the senses..things to see, hear, touch, taste….Montessori presentations do this so well!…oh the fun games we could make from this idea!

I want to prepare the teacher in myself and yet want to prepare the inner teacher in each of my children using the budget God gave me, whether it be my time, money or talent. (oh the DREAMS I have for an unlimited budget…but much is to be learned by thrift too…God makes mountains out of what I perceive as my molehills….He has shown me that time and again if I have the eyes to see it.)   I have high dreams of doing more…God is giving me "sufficient" tools to build awesome structures…He must trust me a lot.  I am not overwhelmed with the prospect, quite the opposite…I see this as His great work and I am a player in it…I am awed by His way of doing things..making connections.  I can remember of a few occasions ..ok more than a few occasions… when God made a common thread appear throughout many of the subjects we were studying and it excited us to learn more…we kinda felt like we were on God’s rabbit trail…getting to know him in the beauty of nature, poetry, hear Him whispering throughout history and see His fingerprints all over this wonderful world that He created…

So I prayerfully discern…
I  want to work on development of habits and challenge ourselves with many subjects to train our minds toward good…giving each child a taste of great thoughts, ideas and art etc…I want to build in the beautiful.

  lol…I really don’t think there is a label for who we are, how we learn, or even proof of a perfectly checked off planning sheet to show we are perfect or admirable in our ideas or follow-through.  I know we could never be perfect anything, just the willing participants during  this grand time together..all be it all too short…to learn as a family…to grow and mature in grace and wisdom before both God and man.  We need a mission statement…maybe we should build that one together, too…

So then enters the time of my discernment as to how to put the pieces together and form a curriculum…I am praying about it…a novena for discernment.  At any time during the year, when inspiration hits, I hurry to type into a ready made word document or a spiral bound notebook…  Now I am taking that information and running with it.  I bookmark sites that I want us to explore together…print out booklists, pull books from shelves or  out of curricula catalogs and compile many lists for the library and then I turn around and look at the house…our learning places… and I want all my ideas and ideals compiled into  a full experience in a prepared environment.

Ok…so THAT must mean … the house needs planning too…(hmmm need to work more on that).

Constantly tweaking, I am ideally striving for chores that run themselves…like at a seasoned toothbrushing stage(you do it well without too much mental effort).

The end result, or the reality of all of this is more of a framework set in such a way that we can fall back on something when things get too interrupted by life’s events and build on something for future learning experiences.  So a framework building we go… ok lets see….to check it all off…
a framework that in addition to curricula and chores and habits training, must also include meal planning so menus are easy to prepare (and note to self…. that also includes a clean fridge) and never forgetting a deep prayer life full of meaningful encounters with God in the Liturgical year. 

I want a  stage set for success…and when this or any other of the stages I am preparing needs a good broom and a proper airing we will take the time off to set things to rights again.    So I really don’t want to have to use a pair of scissors any glue or a mallet to form my work of art.  I just want a good picture to focus on and enjoy.  I want it to be something that each child as well as myself can recognize and enjoy TOGETHER.  Am I reaching for perfection or just simplicity…just simplicity, at least I am pretty sure of this…so we can "simply live" and live fully.  Simplicity takes tweaking and work…I am up for that.  And as for live fully part, I want to live fully the liturgical year…and as a natural consequence I want us to be living our school year in the classroom of The Holy Family in a God-centered, family centered existence.

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God’s Haircut

Have you ever gone to confession and come out of church feeling like you just got a great haircut?  I mean, all of that emotional baggage was just whisked away and left you with a deep sense of well-being and peace?

Well, God showed me today that He intends to do that for me in a different kind of way. 

It all started last year when my 18mo dd played "Houdini" and snuck out of the house one bright Sunday afternoon…after her nap …and snuck past 6 guards and 2 locked doors and was promptly returned in an oh-so-NOT-nice way by a neighbor.  We had no clue she had awoke from her nap.  (How God has a sense of humor about making children smarter than their parents, I have no clue, but!) 

What did happen….
we installed another lock on the back door and we assembled the masses to enlist help for erecting a huge fence to help ensure the continued enjoyment of our property, privacy and the safety of our little ones.  The project was planned while snow was on the ground and saved up for as diligently as possible.  This is hard work for a family that chooses to have a stay-at-home mom in a two income town. 

Finally, we broke ground and began digging the holes.  We purchased the lumber to make our own so it would be sturdier than the store-bought version.  We cleared the property lines of any plants or rocks that had to be relocated. 
Then "IT" happened. 
AGAIN.
IT was a big bill and here I was with the prospect of sending in the unexpected big bill  AND the bill for the lumber we had already cut to the appropriate places….but there were only funds for one of them. 
IT was the only thing I could do right now. 
IT meant selling some of my favorite school resources to help defray the cost of the lumber. 
IT only could wait a month. 

So, here I am, spring-cleaning the shelves.  In the process, I am spring-cleaning my cluttered heart.  I am focusing on how to make our studies stick with limited resources.  I am trying to keep in my heart the things that have actually worked over the last years and many levels of our homeschooling endeavor.  I have learned a great deal from those resources, but it is time to let them go to someone else and let those things bless another homeschool.  I have evolved.  I have evolved in creativity that a stick or a sharpie marker or some random index cards can be manipulatives, centers or really wonderful learning activities. 

I have to learn to make friends again with the library, that I oh-so-hate-to-go-to place because it doesn’t like me bringing things back late or with PB and J on them.  Time to discipline my heart.  Time to simplify.  Time to make all the learning I have accumulated work for ME now….and work for the kids. Maintaining so many books has gotten in the way of living in a smaller space.  I am keeping the really good Catholic books, the books that build character or whet the appetite for more.  But much of the rest will have to go. 

And maybe,
Just supposing,
I might be
actually
better at doing my job. 
Because,
I might be
less cluttered in mind and heart
and more open to God’s Will  in the school day
just like my school shelves.

Yep, it IS ….<<<OK>>>  to let it GO. (See?!   I just gave myself permission 😉
After all, they are JUST books. 
If I need to visit them again, I can go and smile at the librarian.

..that "IT" that keeps happening to me….
what I call Intrinsic TrustIT is essential in my line of work. IT forces its way into my line of thinking at the most (seemingly) inopportune times….or is it more opportune in God’s sight?   

Confidentially, I am leaning on the art of loving and learning and less emphasis on the "stuff" that has its place in making that happen.  Stuff can be good.  I just can’t hug it too tight.  I can use it while I got it, but the essential meaning of being a good teacher is more about learning WHO is in charge.  Setting priorities.  Evaluating.  Tweaking.  Searching for the answers everywhere and lately?…the less "stuff" the better.  Lately, I just want to be more of a servant to the children and less of a slave to the stuff that I really thought I "had" to have around me.

I feel like I just got a haircut.  And…I really like this hairdresser…When I look at all of this in the right light, I love the way it feels ;o)

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I just couldn’t get motivated today  so I am indulging a musing mood today. 

I am contemplating the new normal my family is creating and I am liking what I see…thorns in little things and all.  I am beginning to think we are like pioneers and the blessings that accompany this life are worth the fight for. 

Do you mind if I am slightly long winded?  (just slightly ;o) 

Something Dh and I were discussing last night…This is kinda what I mean…who do you share the JOY with??:

After my ds’s First Holy Communion
…after everyone went home and I decidedly turned my back on the mountain of dishes I was left with, I sat with my dh in the living room feeling odd.  I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I felt…lacking.  I know the house wasn’t perfect (lol …what would THAT look like anyhow 😉  But the food was good and plentiful and we extended hospitality.  Why did I feel…so…empty.  After all, what a great feast!  What graces!  What blessings we enjoyed together!!

My dh…very wise man my dh…said,

"it is because you are so far ahead of them and they know it.  I was confused and I asked him to explain. 

He said, "you are trying to really live fully your faith.  Faith is a tangible necessity in your life.    Don’t take this the wrong way but you are a "religious fanatic".  You would have rather stayed at church all day today.  You would have looked at Jesus and had Him look at you so much would have happened between you.  (our church had adoration yesterday after the mass through devotions at 3 and confessions…I sooo wanted to be there)  It is like you are a sports fan and want to rattle off every amazing stat and no one around you even watches the game.  The just don’t understand what they see."

 

"They" don’t get it and wonder why it is such a big deal.  It is though their body language says "Isn’t church just an obligation they meet for their prescribed hour each week?  I am so stressed out, don’t ask me to do too much more unless I grew up with it…like stations of the cross is ok, but keep those beads away from me…I have no TIME.  It isn’t my "thing""  It is like their life comes to a screeching halt right before the JOY part kicks in. 

I, on the other hand,  would disintegrate into many many atoms scattered throughout the universe without this kind of devotion on an hourly basis!

He grew up with it and is only now understanding what I have been trying to say and live for the last 14 years of our married life. (I love you St Monica!!)  I never knew what God was working in me since my "Emmaus moment" that took place right around the time we got married.  My heart burned with a mission and no one in our families really truly shared that with me.  But it was soo good, so meaningful…surely they can see that too? ( why could they not embrace the idea that being open to life does not equal living in poverty…it is a fear, not the reality.)  Too bad I have such a hard time using words to explain myself with.  Maybe it isn’t the use of words, but the reception of the ears that hear them…no place for them to relate.  No box to check that off in.

I grew up with a very big extended family made up of many great aunts and uncles that hugged and laughed ate and talked and hugged you again.  I belonged.  I fit in…I was family.  I mourn the loss of family in the deeper sense of the word. They are gone now, and their kids have no time.  Their families are small.  We speak different languages.  They are curious, but can’t imagine what it is like to think more about others needs on a 24 hour clock.

Our extended family members act like they are empty in some ways rushing around life and keeping up with  images…and here I am trying to fight my own feelings with having to serve…faithfully every day..no real help.  I get the "you chose this life so  it is your responsibility to live with it " attitude.  Not like just trying to live a good life doesn’t find you down at times, or sick or lonely.  They see us trying to instill devotion in our children and they are wary of it…how will they ever get along in the "real world"  I am not working…and they are waiting with an "I told you so" in regards to financial hardships we encounter with me being home.  Which is a heartbreaking thing to hear from them.   

Furthermore if any child carries a cross they blame that cross on home education or being part of a larger family, which is just using these things as a scapegoat for imperfection which are two totally different animals altogether. 

Poor souls!  They could have so much but they build hard high walls around themselves.  They give "wow" gifts for Christmas, Easter and birthdays.  That is the way they show they care, when we cannot return in kind we are not being loving towards them.  We try, but!  The fact that I have a bad memory for somethings that they hold in esteem is a problem too.  We have different "normals".  I have too much on my mind.  That is what comes from trying to do it all on an island of simplicity…I am just happy to find shoes that match and such.  Every time we have another child, that is one more child that they have to buy for.  "I can’t spoil them like I should."  "I can only visit with a few of them at a time." 
they don’t see that we are the ones being spoiled with the youthful exuberance of each child and we are blessed by the time the children spend loving us. 

"They" don’t see that it is them that we want.  We want to assimilate them.  We will take no bribes to love.  We want to love them as the great big hearts of our children so desire to. Resistance is futile.  Take your medicine for your heartache and like it! 

can I say that? ;o)

They interact with our family rather formally and not personally.  I am the kind of gal who likes to work hard then grab a cuppa to chat and gab…I love to share laughs while doing dishes after we have eaten at someone’s home.  They visit like they are punching a clock.  If dinner isn’t served within a half hour of them arriving, they wonder how late they will have to stay..so therefore it SEEMS I barely have my act together when dinner hits the table after an hour and a half…after dh and I ran like crazy to serve it by ourselves.  After dessert is gone, so are they ..leaving dishes and my emptiness in their wake. 

I would love to socialize with any family with a paintbrush in my hand and home made cookies in the other.  I am more at home with a broom in my hand making someone else’s life easier…and I don’t care what may be found lurking under the couch…it may be a good science project, for heaven sake!  I don’t judge someone’s worthiness as a parent by THAT…silly people…if crumbs under the table make you feel uncomfortable maybe it is because God just wants you to  grab a broom…not grab a moment to make that person’s life harder to bear.  God plants moments ( or allows them) so we can rise to the occasion and grow.  But there is that "God thing" again.  You can have your own life, but being part of our family you can choose to be the weed or the flower in this garden…your choice.

We are the ones with a "different mission" to plant this garden.  We have to be obedient to the mission entrusted to us.  This is our calling.  We are open to life, willing to live more simply to find joy in the little hidden places…our hearts have grown from it.  Every sigh, every piece of laughter magnifies that joy ten times over for us.  Others see something they are attracted to, but don’t know what it is they are seeing.  They want to come back for more, but what IS the more they want?  We want to live a family-centered Christ-centered existence and the more the merrier…the more joy the better.  and I am known to say "if you need me, tell me what time and I will be there with bells on!"  But whoever it is has to realize that the children are my primary mission.  Many times I can do both at the same time because living the life that is one of a servant makes both possible.  We are choosing to love with our actions as a family.   The more reasons to celebrate and make the ordinary extra-ordinary the better.  The more things we can do as a family with everyone in tow the better.  We have no formal living room so to speak….  (lol) Life is a little messy…so what?  That is what God made soap and water for and many hands to make those neat little footprints in the puddles!  Don’t worry, I know what a mop is and how to use it.  Be not afraid! 

Sharing burdens makes your heart lighter and more courageous to fight the good fight and win the race…together.  WE learn to make lemonade out of those lemons we have and we deliberately enjoy every valued sip.  …and all the blessings hidden in the crosses!!  Praise God!  And we reuse every part of that lemon that there is to use..even that neat sticker on the outside of the rind. (I can hear Archbishop Fulton Sheen yelling out "THERE IS JOY IN THAT CROSS!!" Amen.

But it is such a bummer finding this JOY and not finding a blessed soul to share it with!

When we visit…we visit!  We talk laugh and love.  Pass the chocolate and I will save the best piece for last and it belongs to you so I can see you enjoying yourself! :o)

I like a good cry amongst friends. 

I was once visiting my bil and sil and they had a friend there that said

"I firmly believe the disintegration of our nation lies in the fact that we no longer put front porches on our homes" 

Communication…we don’t know how to visit anymore.  We don’t know the art of conversation and love that should transpire amongst family.  Family is a gift.  and it’s fruit is joy …to be shared!  God makes the best deep joy…you just HAVE TO share it…or the rocks will just cry out!  Do you hear the rocks in my yard singing?

"by their fruits you shall know them"

Oh golly…does anyone want some of my "I like cocoa with my coffee" cocoa or some "I like coffee with my cocoa" coffee and a piece of left-over (it’s better that way, you know) creamy cheesecake??  We can just belly-laugh through our sugar high…LOL! 

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Just some random thoughts….more on the Domestic Monastery

I have a lot of great ideas…well planned wonderful fruitful things that always seem to get rained out by real life.  I remember an actor once saying that he would not work with children and small animals because they would "steal the show".  I know how he feels in a way.  I realize that answering God’s call, often times allows me to use my creativity but I will not feel any peace unless it is part of God’s plan…no matter how perfect the "idea" might seem to me.  Oftentimes, I hear of someone having a baby or being laid up and I want to bring over a dinner…and I burn it or the car won’t start.  I want to mail out a gift to someone and I find it sitting for the THIRD time under the front seat of the car…and I want to crawl under a rock.  I found an old bill I thought was paid and the sweet people never called me to tell me I never sent the money but politely sent a please remember to pay me bill…sheesh…Can ‘t I do any of these good deeds right?  God is a patient soul!! So then I tend to think more of "I wonder what the Good God is thinking of me right now. 

What would be the best way to steward my time

…do I own my own time??…

and talent? 

…do I have any talent anymore for anything….I am so very distracted I can’t remember! 

Sometimes I think how good it is that God is All-knowing and can even work with a mishapen piece of clay like me…covered in old dry cheerios and dryer lint.  …an imperfect art medium to be sure…

So I had this random thought one night…and it goes something like this….

Have you ever had a hard time with continually  thinking of someone?  Maybe there is a thought of someone from the past that you can’t seem to let go of?  It happens to me all the time and  used to bother me…but then I thought more of the whys of it and began to think that just MAYBE it was their guardian angel “pestering” me.  Let me explain. 

One night I woke up….

…and I thought of a young man from my past.  We had grown up together for a few years and were pretty good friends.  He went off to college and slowly disappeared from my life and probably never gave me a second thought but there are times I begin to wonder about him.  I know he is married now and has children and a good job…somewhere.  I know that I would never contact him in real life…but he is still sneaking into the corner of my thoughts at times.  So I tried something.  I prayed to God and asked Him why this “young” boy kept coming into my thoughts.  I prayed that he was still a good guy and a good dad and a good worker.  I prayed that he was active in his children’s lives and supported his spouse in every way and they were a good couple, a strong family and a good example to those around them, in their schools and workplaces…etc…and were good faithful Catholics.   I basically just rambled on to God about whatever came into my brain at that EARLY hour of the A.M.  I prayed the rosary for a little while and the thought just left my head…as quickly as it came …and I was suddenly sleepy.

Gift_of_love_2
Sometimes I wonder if God just needs to call “A Few Good Men” (or Mommies) to help Him out and make peoples paths a little straighter…the road a little smoother, the sunlight on them a little kinder.  Those little acts of kindness in little moments are the kind of mission work that I can do when… having to drag myself out of bed to tend to a cry of need at night, …or…. while folding diapers …or… while scrubbing out the tub…all the while my toddler is cuddling her baby doll at my feet….and the 4 year old is jumping up and down singing a song reeeeallly LOUD …Or… while the family is at work or prayer or rest with their needs basically met….you know…while living my "hidden life".   …Hey!  I can do this!!

Hmm…I think mommies are called to be of service in the still, silent, unnoticed ways…missionaries in our own right…as God loves the small, the unnoticed and the seemingly insignificant to do some share of His Great Work.  Maybe this kind of little prayer for others could just be another way of answering the call of the Monastery Bell

So I arise and do my job…in the day and in the night…but with a prayer for someone else in my heart.  That is something I can feel is an accomplishment…something I can actually finish…a sweet thought during my daily duties…but not for myself….for others.

 
Image:Danny Hahlbohm "Gift Of Love".

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