Thursday, February 28, 2013

Quick Takes

Once again, joining my favourite reality star, Jen, today!

1. about a homeschool edition of quick takes?  It's been awhile since the last time I updated everyone on the goings-on at our little homeschool in the woods.....before getting into the nitty-gritty of a school update, a quick health/gym update for me.....after gaining back 20 pounds of my 40 pound weight loss....I'm happy to say that I'm back down 10!  Woot! Woot!

2.   Alright, on with the schooling update.  We've had a lot of "life skills" lessons recently - mostly because our little neck of the woods has pretty much constantly looked like this:

Remember that snowstorm that 1/2 of the meteorologists thought was going to hit us and the other 1/2 thought was going to leave us alone?  Yeah.  It hit us.  I was very glad we went to the vigil Mass on Saturday night, as there was NO way I was leaving my house on Sunday morning!  Our 5-9 possible inches of snow turned into a good 14 inches of wet, heavy, snowman-building snow.   The boys and I got many chances for PE classes as we shoveled out our super long driveway.   We have one snowblower to share with our neighbours right now (we share the driveway) because theirs broke in the last snowstorm, so it was a communal effort to get us cleaned out a couple of times.    One thing I do love about living in Maine is that snow storms seem to build community - we're all out there together, even in the woods, laughing and working towards a goal of clearing out the drive.   Add in the fact that the day after typically looks like the picture above - brilliant blue skies and pristine white snow - and I actually kind of like the fact that we've had 3 snowstorms in two weeks now.

3.  Rascals #2 and #3 working hard on their lessons, earlier this week.  Rascal #2 is getting so close to being an independent reader - and he's determined to write, write, write now that he's reading more readily.    He doesn't seem to mind my insistence that once you're reading well.....your handwriting needs to be perfected so that OTHERS can read well.   I'm taking advantage of that!  Rascal #1 has atrocious handwriting and no amount of practicing seems to get it through his head that others need to be able to read what he has written.   Rascal #2 is affirming my handwriting obsession, thankfully!  Rascal #3 is insistent on "catching up" to his big brothers.  He's 3 years behind in age, but he's determined not to let that stop him.   He gets so upset if I don't plan enough work for him during school time - if he's done before the others, I have to quickly invent more schoolwork to keep him occupied.   He wants to do just as much as the big boys!

4.  This isn't necessarily school-related, but I'm going to included it.  Legos (in my humble opinion) aren't just fun and games - they force Rascal #1 to really work on his spatial reasoning, not to mention his attention and focus.   This set, labeled for 10 years of age and up, took him 20 minutes to put together.   This child can "see" things and structures in his head like no one else I know - I think we have a future architect on our hands.   Add in the fact that he saves up his own allowance and shoveling money (the boys shovel our drive and our neighbors to earn spending money), and Legos become a math lesson.    Real life learning, at its finest!

5.  I'm required to teach the boys in specific subjects, according to our state.  This is fine, except for the fact that the curriculum we have chosen, for various reasons, does not have a definite lesson plan in some of those subjects.   I've been able to "farm out" some of them (physical education = gymnastics, fine arts = music lessons, for example), but it's a bit harder when it comes to science and history.    We follow a classical curriculum, which focuses more on literature, mathematics, and religion, and doesn't bring in structured science and history until the later primary grades.   With Rascal #2 only being in "1st" grade, I've had to create our own science and history lessons.   It's a bit stressful - trying to create something that will fulfill the requirements - but it's also been fun.   I can structure what we do around his likes and dislikes.   We've been blessed with an abundance of awesome books geared towards the elementary age (thank you, Scholastic warehouse sales), and so I've been letting him pick out books off of our bookshelf, and we've been exploring them together.   It's been fun to see his mind work and to see him get really excited about whatever we're researching.  This week (and we'll continue into next week), he's been looking up various insects.   I've had him creating poster presentations on the various bugs he's learned about.   He's so proud of all of his little bugs crawling all over the house.  

6.  Oh, homeschooling.   Pretty sure breakdancing isn't on the curriculum at our local school.  ;)

7.  Hmmm.....what else can I say?   How about a quick evaluation of each child?

Rascal #1:   excelling in his music lessons (piano), loving his science and history lessons.   Struggling with writing, but is slowly progressing now that he has found a new love of reading.  Biggest hurdle with Rascal #1 is getting him to sit still and take his time.   He's definitely a member of the "get as much done as possible in the shortest amount of time possible" team - no perfectionist here, when it comes to writing.  His creativity amazes me every day.    He has an uncanny ability to memorize and recite poetry, and this also seems to make him a natural for learning a second language (Latin).

Rascal #2:  Way ahead of grade level in math - this child can beat his older brother in any math competition.   In order to challenge him, he has to work about 2 grade levels ahead, but he cannot read well enough to do that yet.   I have to read him the directions and word problems, but he can solve them almost instantly.  Biggest struggle with #2 is his confidence when it comes to reading and writing.  He has a hard time with reading and is very worried about making a mistake.  He is definitely a perfectionist when it comes to language-related tasks - a complete opposite of his bigger brother.  His attention to detail is impressive, and his complete grasp of all things theology takes my breath away.   I'm daily reminded, through Rascal #2, of how we are all called to childlike faith.  This child just *gets* it.

Rascal #3:   An interesting preschooler.  He's not a fan of anything creative (colouring, cutting and pasting, arts and crafts), but is a HUGE fan of worksheets and repetition.  He loves flashcards, and is working on learning all of his letter sounds and names, as well as how to write them.   Just don't ask him to colour code anything......He's a very determined little boy and really wants to be able to read on his own.    He's definitely my most challenging student (I think just because of his age), but he's also the one who is most excited to start his lessons every day.  His love of learning inspires me and keeps me going during the cold February dreariness!


Have a great weekend, y'all!  We'll be in Boston for a big gymnastics meet!  Say a prayer that all goes well and I'll share pictures next week!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Keep it simple, stupid.....

I mentioned a few posts ago how I've really been feeling the pull to simplify this Lent.  It wasn't an intended "goal" of mine for this season, but it seems to be an unforeseen side effect.  I've always been one to keep busy-busy-busy, especially after meeting and marrying Mike (he never stops - he's like the Energizer Bunny), and it always used to amaze me that people would seem so incredulous at our daily schedule or to-do list.  I'd get comments about my energy level, or things like "You do more in one hour than I do all day!"  every single day.   I'd walk away thinking, "Wow, I can't imagine doing anything LESS than what I am doing right now - I can't possibly be doing anything more that a normal person..."   And I truly believed it.  I still kind of do, really.  

I look around at the other parents at gymnastics practice - the ones who are saying hi to their spouse quickly as they "change shifts" and the parent who dropped off for practice is now running out the door to go accomplish more tasks.   Or, I'd overhear families talking about going through the drive thru again for dinner, and think to myself, "I'm so grateful that we're not that busy!"

And I was.   And still am - we have a lot that we should be grateful for.   We are truly blessed.  

But things seem to have changed around in my head over the past two weeks.  Maybe it's the rescheduling of our day to be around prayer (thanking God for whomever created the alarms in cell phones - I'm not sure we'd realize it was prayer time without that clanging!).   Maybe it's the lack of coffee.   Maybe it's the fact that I moved the computer completely OUT of the main room of the house, so can't just "pop on to check my email quickly."   I don't know - whatever it is, our lives seem a bit less cluttered.   A bit slower than normal.

And I'm secretly LOVING it.   Over the past two weeks, I've been able to sit back and really take a look at our daily life, kind of from the outside.   There are a lot of things that I love about our life - things I'm very thankful for and things that I don't ever want to change.

But there's a lot that I don't like.

I don't like having to rush the boys through meals, just so we can be ready to leave the house once again to run to practice or music or swim lessons or errands.

I don't like feeling like I'm constantly nagging about chores - when we're so busy, the boys don't have time to have both play time and a chance to finish their chores, and I end up nagging and pestering them about their simple duties.

I don't like dinner time being my main source of stress for the day - trying to figure out how to feed our family healthfully while not getting home until 6 pm every single weekday was causing me incredible pressure.   

I don't like not being able to work out on a regular basis, because we're constantly running, running, running. 

I don't like feeling constantly exhausted and reliant on coffee just to get through the day.   It's hard to get to sleep before midnight when there's so much that I didn't get to throughout the day.   The first week or so of Lent, I was so constantly exhausted that it really hit me just how much my body physically relies on caffeine just to push through the day.  It really was my liquid source of energy.   That realization - the understanding of just how addicted I truly was, physically - was slightly terrifying.

I don't want to be the mom that's too busy to nurture friendships.  I don't want to be the mom that's constantly snapping or yelling at their kids to "get moving" or "come on, let's go!"    I cringe every time I hear myself say that.......I really need to stop.  When you hear your 4 year old repeat it back to you, even with the same tone of know it's going a bit too far.

The past two weeks have shown me that no one else is going to fight for quality time in my life - it has to be something that I fight for.   If I want time to watch my boys just play together and live in their imaginations - I need to give them that time.   If I want time to take care of myself physically - I need to carve it out.  If I want to make sure I have the ability to put home-cooked, healthy meals on the table for my family - I need to fight for it.


That's what He's telling me this Lent.   

So that's what I'm working on - I'm simplifying.   One piece of the puzzle at a time:

Personal:  nurture the "real life" friendships and relationships.   Online connections are great - but oftentimes, they end up being a way to avoid my real surroundings.   I need to focus on my immediate surroundings: these are the people and friends who are going to drop off medicine and gatorade when we're all sick.  These are the friends who are going to be around to lend a hand when Peter comes home.   These are the friends who I can hug on the hard days.    I love all of my friends and family - near and far - but, I was spending too much time immersed in a virtual world, and ignoring the world around me.    It's great to be awake at 2 am and have someone to chat with online........but it's not so great when you can't pull yourself away from the computer for all hours of the day because there's ALWAYS someone online to chat with.   Real life friends come over for an hour or two....and then they go home.   Simplify.

Family:  We need to cut back.  Just because we CAN do multiple things doesn't mean that we should.   Sure swim lessons are "free"...but they're also two days a week because the age spread between the boys necessitates enrolling in two different classes, on completely different days of the week.  We've dropped those lessons - freeing up two weekdays.    Simplify our schedule.

Diet:   Back to the basics.   Cutting swim lessons means two less days of "30 minute meals" and more time to get back into our "from scratch" menus.   It also means two days of guaranteed treadmill time.

Physically:   we have too much stuff.  I know it, Mike knows it....I even think the boys know it.   A lot of it (like baby toys and books), I'm holding on to for when Peter comes home.   But just because I'm holding onto it doesn't mean it needs to be accessible!  There's no reason why it can't be stored neatly in the basement instead of cluttering up the house.   I've been slowly going through the house and boxing things back up or bagging them up to donate.   Simplify our stuff.

It doesn't seem like much - cutting back on just a few things, here and there - but it's already made a huge difference.   Simplifying these few things has led to much more time to get the necessities accomplished - which then gets me to bed closer to on time, which then leads to less of a reliance on liquid energy the next day, which then leads to a happier and more productive household.   


Refocus on what's important:  marriage, family, and God (not necessarily in that order!).  


This life is just a passing moment - why do I want to make it harder than it already is?    Refocusing on God in every action, every errand, every chore has pointed out to me just how much I'd pushed Him out and refilled those spots with the chaos and stress of the outside world.    

I'm cleaning house this Lent - how about you?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

What I Wore Sunday (cough cough Saturday), volume 2

Little early this weekend, but joining up with the gang over at Fine Linen and Purple again this week!   We chose to go to a vigil Mass this weekend, hoping to beat the possible snowstorm that is coming overnight tonight if it does actually come (right now the meteorologists are a 50-50 split.  Either the world is coming to an end in snowfall.......or nothing.  We'll see what I wake up to tomorrow!).

So the boys and I did a bit of driving around - stopping at one parish for our monthly Confession trip, then swinging by Daddy's hospital for a quick visit, then going to our regular parish for Mass.   A bit more driving than we usually do on our Saturday afternoon/evenings, since I usually split it into two different days, but it worked.  We're all safe and warm at home now, and fulfilled our Sunday obligation at the same time.

Anywho, today's outfit isn't too special - it's my go to outfit for busy Church outings because it's uber comfortable.   It's also the one I reach for when it's one of those days where you just feel bloated and gross and undermotivated to look cute (girls, I think you know what I mean), which happened to be today for me.   Never fails - days with tons of lack of motivation always seem to be the days that I have the most running around to do.  Is it like that for everyone else, too?

Alright.....the kiddos are antsy and hitting that witching hour moment where I *need* to stop what I'm doing and get them into bed before meltdowns happen..........

(Don't forget that you can click on the picture to make them bigger....just a warning for the last picture in the post!)

Daddy snuck in at the last minute, between pages at work!  :)  Caught in action by a cute little old lady who was delighted to take our picture but totally confused by my iPhone.  heehee

I'll save everyone some time - the entire outfit, head-to-toe, is from Target.   Again....I'm an efficient shopper.  ;)

And because I'm feeling uber generous today, leaving you with a giggle from earlier.  We had school lessons to complete today, since we had the week-o-playdates this past week.  I left Rascal #2 at the kitchen table with the instructions to write his own short story (he's working on learning how to read and write).    I walked away, the scene looking like this:

Oh so studious Rascal #2

And came back to find THIS story.  Sigh.  He's such a boy.

I did touch it up to remove his name......he didn't end with a preposition, gasp!

Have a great week, y'all!

ETA:  I almost forgot to post the boys' mass grades!  This week was fantastic, which may or may not have been the direct result of a bribe for a take-out dinner of their choice on the way home from church.....

Rascal #1: A
Rascal #2:  A+
Rascal #3:  A

Friday, February 22, 2013

Quick Takes

Linking up with Jen again today!

1.  These are going to be kinda haphazard, just a warning.  I kinda forgot today was Friday.  Whoops!  That's the downside of homeschooling -- I have NO idea what day of the week it is.

2.  So.....let's see.  What can I write about?  I'm on day 3 of a juice fast......not sure how long I'm going to make it - I'm taking it in chunks of 6ish days, with the plan I'm following.  I've come to realize over the past few months that I have a very unhealthy attachment to food.   Feeling good?  Let's eat!  Feeling bad?  Let's eat!  Bored?  Let's eat!   It's Saturday?  Let's eat!   Yeah........I need to get back to what food is supposed to be about - nourishment.  That's all.  That's it.   Energy.  So far, so good.  I'd love to sit down and eat a meal, but I really like juices - even the green ones! - and it's going okay.

Before juicing....

After juicing for two days worth of meals - still have about half of the produce left in there to pulverize.

3.  I usually listen to our Catholic radio station on the way to gymnastics.  We leave at 3 pm, which is when they play a Divine Mercy Chaplet, so the boys and I pray a chaplet, and then they let me listen to the "Word on Fire" episode for the day.  Let's just say that today, Fr Barron kind of blew my mind. I don't even know if I can put it into words.  Let me see if there's a video clip.......

Okay, not a video clip, but you can listen to it here.   Go ahead.  I'll wait.  

4.  I just sent the boys upstairs to take a shower together.   This could be interesting......They're already pretty clean after baths last night, but I just want the chalk from gymnastics to be washed off of them.   They're excited though!   It's the little things.  They did a fantastic job working together to clean up our mess of a playroom, though, so this is their reward.

Caught in the act - their assembly line method of cleaning up

5.  We've had three bazillion playdates this week.  (Not really, just three!)  It's been a fun week.  I love homeschooling - we can have a playdate, gym practice, and do an entire day's worth of lessons, all on the same day.  :)

6.  We made our own coconut milk last night.  It was easier than we expected, and we got A LOT out of two coconuts.  The boys had a blast - and it's been fun trying coconut milk in things instead of cow's milk.  I had planned on using it to make soup, but we've now drunk so much of it that I don't have enough left.  Whoops.   Guess I should pick up some more coconuts!

Watching the juicer press the coconut pulp

yum yum yum!  We got about a quart's worth from two coconuts

7.  I realized that my last picture post was very light on pictures of Rascal #2.  In hopes that no one will accuse me of him being a neglected child (haha), I end this Quick Takes with a few pictorial representations of his current state in life.  ;)

He finally climbed to the top of the rope at gymnastics!  This is  a HUGE hurdle he's been working to overcome!

My child who has been refusing to try to read (he's such a perfectionist and would refuse to try unless he knew for sure he was correct) wrote this on his own tonight while I was making dinner.  No help from me or his brother.   Guess he's gaining confidence?

Thursday, February 21, 2013


There's a lot going on in my head this Lent - I keep feeling this need to simplify...simplify everything...our diets....our schedules.....our house....simplify and re-focus.   I guess that's supposed to be the point of Lent, after all?   To force us all to slow down, detach ourselves from the chaos that is our earthly lives, and re-focus on Him.    Man, our Church is smart....  ;)

So we've been doing that at home, too.  Trying to slow things down, keep things calm and quiet (hahahahahahahahahaha YOU try doing that with three boys - talk about a Lenten penance!), and focus on our priorities (God and family).   Some days have better than others, but overall, I've been feeling a bit of focus come into my life over the past week.   For that, I'm very grateful.

In the spirit of keeping things's blog post is a collection of pictures from the past few days.   There'll be time for contemplation and wordy posts another day.....right now, I'm focusing on living in the moment with my rascals, and keeping us pointed toward God.  

The other night we took a "road trip" to Arizona by going to see an AZ friend speak in Boston

Chris, sharing his wife, Angela's, story

Dinner stop - reminiscing about playdates with Kara :)

Focusing on family = teaching Rascal #1 to cook dinner

Focusing on friends = all of us are working hard to keep the post office in business

Quiet story time after  Mass on Sunday

Focusing on family = teaching Rascal #3 to complete his chores

Letting in the sun <3

Monday, February 18, 2013

Why I Love My Husband - Take 2

Joining up with Kaitlin again today.  :)  Come on, you know you want to, too!

Today I love my husband because he takes the time to have fun.   He's the "fun" parent - Mommy is the cleaner/cooker/nurturer.    The boys come to me if they fall and need a hug.....they go to him if they want to play outside.

I love my husband because last night, he started a Wii bowling tournament with the kiddos that led to LOTS of laughs, smiles, and happy memories.

He's the memory creator.   For that I'm grateful.  :)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

What I Wore Sunday and Mass Grades, explained....volume 1

Joining up with the gang over at Fine Linen and Purple finally.....I've been meaning to do this for awhile, and decided Lent was a good time to start.  Enjoy!  


We've been working on getting the boys to understand just how special Mass is for us Catholics - how important it is and how amazingly special it is to be there - with Jesus truly present in the Eucharist.   We've got rascals who are getting ready to make their First Holy Communion this year (and next year), and Mike and I are trying hard to teach them what exactly that means.   Part of that teaching/educating has to come from our own actions and examples, we've decided.

So how do we do that?  It's a bit daunting.  I mean, come on, we both just *really* began to understand the Mass ourselves in the last ten years or so.  We were late to the party, you could say.    How do we reflect what we know to be true about the liturgy to little boys who aren't quite able to grasp conceptually what is going on (although Rascal #1 is there, I'm sure of it)?  

Well....we show them.  With our actions.  With our behaviour.  With the way we dress.  With the way we participate.   We can't put it into words that they'll understand just yet - - but we can help them *know* it by showing them what we believe in our actions.   A picture is worth a thousand words, right?   Actions speak volumes, right?   

Over the past year, we started "grading" the boys on their behaviour at Mass.  In turn, they get to "grade" our behaviour.  Did we show respect in our actions?  In our participation?  Were we reverent with our body language at Mass?  Were we respectfully quiet when God was talking to us through the Scripture readings?   All of this factors into our "Mass grade," and then Mike and I grade the boys using the same criteria.  It's not actually recorded in a gradebook somewhere, but since they all get graded on their lessons (and understand what those grades mean), this puts our expectations into a concept that they all can understand.  It's sort of turned into a Facebook joke, but we truly believe it helps the boys understand what we do at Mass....and why.   It's not just a passing comment - it's a chance to discuss what is happening at Mass and why we do what we do, as Catholics.

Recently, we've taken it a bit further, discussing our clothing choices.   Why do we take the time to make our family look as presentable as possible - even though it often leads to chaos getting out of the door?  (you know, those moments when you realize that Rascal #3 put his church shirt on BEFORE brushing his teeth and now has a neon blue streak up his arm from where he wiped his mouth?).    What we choose to present to the world (and Jesus) reflects what we really think on the inside....are we showing Him just how much we love Him and wish to worship Him with our clothing choices?

I've been meaning to join in on this link-up for awhile, but often forget to snap a picture when we get back home from Mass (before just isn't going to happen....see the toothpaste example above!), and by then, I'm rushing to get lunch on the table before Rascal #3 faints of starvation because he's wasting away, obviously......and the picture never gets taken.   However, we've really been focusing on this concept around here, and it's finally time to join in.    I encourage you to do the same!   Think about what you wear to Mass (or church if you're not Catholic), and share it!   

The Holy Spirit kind of forced me into starting today for one very fun reason:  we went out for breakfast after Mass today, and the waitress gave the boys cups of crayons and paper to colour on while they were preparing our meal.    Rascal #3 decided to take that opportunity to draw a picture of what Mommy wore to Church......complete with the description that I was falling on the ice outside of Mass (yes, it's true) in the picture.  Sigh.   These rascals definitely keep me humble.  ;)

Sigh...Mommy at Mass, falling on the ice

Don't mind the double chins....Mike snapped the picture just as I laughed.  Humility is a virtue, right?  ;)

I'm not much of a fashionista, so the outfits aren't going to be exciting, but I try.  ;)

Skirt:  New York and Company
Cardi, cami, top, tights, and shoes: Target.  What can I say?  I'm a one-stop-shop kind of girl.   YOU try shopping for clothes with three little boys in tow!  haha

Mass Grades:
Rascal #1:  A
Rascal #2: A +
Rascal #3: B (would've been an A if he didn't try to curl up and fall asleep so many times on the pew, complete with overly dramatic YAAAWWWNNNNSSSS.  You'd think we kept him up all night or something!)

Saturday, February 16, 2013


I'm one exhausted introvert, after a week of appointments** and meetings, so bear with me as I take the easy way out of blogging and leave you with a picture post.  I'm off of Facebook for Lent, so I think most of these are new to most of you.   Not quite as easy to share our silly moments here at the house without that ever-so-easy "Share to Facebook" button to use!  

Here you have it - a glimpse into the Circus tent:

Oh, rascal never fail to crack me up

Just practicing his Latin counting...

Cheater cheater pumpkin eater
Mardi Gras might just be my favourite day of the year.....yummmmm jambalaya
Reason #2 for Mardi Gras joy:  hurricanes.  YUM.

The big boys made a great poster (thanks to my friend Cathy) - they'll add stones, forming a path to the cross, every time they perform some sort of sacrifice throughout Lent.

We tried a new recipe this week, subbing veggie broth for chicken broth - it's a "Panera" broccoli cheese soup.  It was delicious!  You can find the recipe here.

We scored some prickly pear fruit at the store this week, and after a minor mishap in peeling said fruit (OW!), we enjoyed some of the most delicious homemade juice ever!   Definitely made AZ feel a bit closer this week...

Rascal #1 made me a valentine.  :)

I had to leave you on a funny one.  Harry, our hamster, doesn't appear to like Mike that much - he sees Mike coming, and he contorts himself into this tube in an attempt to protect himself from Mike.  haha.  Mike has to lure him out with pieces of food in order to help the kiddos clean out Harry's cage......this hamster's a rascal!

** Thank you for all of the prayers this week - all of our appointments went well.  We won't know more about Rascal #3's echocardiogram for awhile, but it appears that nothing serious is going on.  We will keep you all updated!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Why I Love My Husband - take 1

Joining Kaitlin today - and hopefully every Monday! - in her mission to " to reject a culture that says it's acceptable to tear down your husband," one blog post at a time....

I've also found myself incredibly saddened when I find a group of women - or even just one woman - trashing their husbands, or using him as a butt of a joke.  It's all over Facebook, it happens at playdates, or moms nights outs....wherever women congregate.   It's almost like we have to build ourselves up by tearing down the ONE person we're supposed to love and cherish above all others.  I've written about it before, here.  

So, I'm joining Kaitlin.   These posts aren't intended to "prove" to the world that Mike and I have a perfect marriage (we don't), or that our family is perfect (it's not).  It's my attempt to celebrate the strengths of a man I love, let him know that he's appreciated, and thank God for the blessing of him in my life.  


Why I love my husband - Take 1!

Today, I love Mike because he works hard.  His dedication and commitment to providing for our family is the reason why I'm still in my pajamas on a Monday morning at 9:30,  getting the last few things organized before starting our schooling for the day.

I am 100% aware of the fact that I am blessed - DAILY - with the opportunity to stay home and care for the boys (and homeschool) only because of Mike's ability to care of our temporal needs.   

Today, I love my husband because he shows us he loves us every day - by going to work when he's tired, or when he doesn't feel motivated to work, or when the weather's not so great.   He shows us his love by providing for our needs.

I'm grateful.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Quick Takes

I know, I know, it's a day late, but I'm finally joining Jen again and doing quick takes.  

1.   We're snowed in up here in Maine, so I'm enjoying it.  Our life has been so "go-go-go" since we moved back East,  I've found it very hard to justify sitting in front of the computer and blogging.   Spending quality time with my kiddos has been higher up on the priority list, which means the blog has suffered from a bit of neglect.   Now I have NO excuse - we've been stuck inside for two days now with no way to get out (yay!)..........and the kids are happily building a fort in the playroom, after plenty of Mom and Dad time.  

2.   Guess what, fellow Catholics.  Lent starts this week.  Doesn't that seem crazy?  It seem so early this year, but I'm pretty sure we say that every year.   We're just coming down from the high of Christmas season, and it seems a bit daunting to be thrown right into a season of fasting and repentance.  I'm actually really excited about it.  I'm feeling very challenged with Lent this year - like I'm being called to really focus this Lent and challenge myself to go further than any other Lent before.   

3.  Which brings me to the "theme" of today's quick takes:  my Lenten plan.  I spent an hour in Adoration the other night, and brought my journal.   I asked Him what He wanted from me this Lent, and, well.......He didn't disappoint (of course!).   He let me have it, the good and the bad.  

4.  I'm a part of a fantastic online Catholic Moms group, and one of the things we do every year is participate in a "saint" and a "virtue" of the year (if you want -it's not forced upon anyone).   I always enjoy this practice - I'm kind of "saint illiterate" and enjoy the opportunity to grow in knowledge of the saints.  The virtue of the year is always a challenge - we're asked to learn about our virtue, reflect upon it, and strive to grow in that virtue throughout the coming year.   It definitely pushes you out of your comfort zone, if you let it.    This year's saint for me (St. Gerard Majella) and virtue (mortification) was definitely hand-picked for me by the Holy Spirit.  On Wednesday, when I sat there in Adoration, I realized just how much, and how much this Lent was going to challenge me to grow.  

  We all know how hard the past few months have been on me with the miscarriage and all.   While it's been incredibly difficult and I've been struggling with depression, I'm starting to see some glimmers of hope.   St Gerard has been an amazing go-to guy for me - there's a reason he's been my "saint of the year" I'm sure.   I have no doubt that this Lent is going to build upon what I've already learned during this miscarriage experience, and my guess is that it's going to be built upon my virtue for the year: mortification.   I'm realizing, through the past few months, how joy-filled suffering can really be.   I've experienced incredible Love already, and I'm realizing how much more I yearn for Him.   I don't want to be pulled down by the "trappings" of this world - I want to live for the next world.   

5.  So this Lent, I'm hopeful and excited.  And ambitious.   The season of Lent has three "pillars" built into it in the Catholic Church:  prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.  The other night, while listening to Him, I realized just how much I tend to ignore two of those. Not this year.  I have a plan for each of the pillars.   First up - prayer.   I'd admit - I'm way ahead on this one.....if you compare me to the Heidi of ten years ago.  I'm nowhere near where I should be - it's easy to convince myself that I'm "too busy" to pray......or leave it for late at night and fall asleep while attempting to pray.    This has to change.  My life should revolve around Him...and it can't if I'm not talking to Him.    My plan for this Lent regarding prayer?   Make it front and center of our daily home life.    I'll listen to St. Josemaria and conquer that "heroic minute" - the moment my alarm clock goes off.   I'll actually get up and spend that time before the kids wake up in prayer and with my spiritual reading (I've got a couple of books sitting on my bedside table already).    The kids and I will pray the Angelus at noon, and we'll make it a point to end our day with a family rosary.  Prayer must be the backbone of our daily life.

6.  Almsgiving:  another one that I've often ignored.  It's easy to avoid this one if you're already throwing money in the basket every week.   Last year, we really focused on this one, and we've been blessed abundantly in return.   I have no doubt that if I give until it hurts......He will not be outdone in generosity.  So this year, I will give all of the money I save with fasting away.   Mike and I have already decided to tithe by sponsoring a couple different parish ministries, in addition to the money saved while fasting.  The kids will also be asked to give this Lent - part of their allowance into the collection basket at Church (or another charity of their choice).  

7.  Fasting:  alright, here's the biggie.   This is where I really feel called to challenge myself (well, other than the heroic minute  - I told Mike about that part of my plan and he laughed at me.  It will definitely be a mortification that would make St. Josemaria proud!).   When I sat there, reflecting on what would be a significant sacrifice for me.......two things kept coming back and back in my head.   It's scary and intimidating to imagine giving this particular item up for the 40 days of Lent....but I will do it.  I am 100% confidant that this is what He's calling me to do.   Here it goes - a public declaration that you all can hold me to:   

I will give up coffee and drastically limit social media (no Facebook, and only the moms' group for the daily prayer, readings, and resolutions) for Lent.

When I told the kids last night at dinner what I was planning on doing (as we were helping them decide what to give up), this is what I saw:

No coffee or Facebook for Mommy?  Eek!

It's going to be a challenging Lent.  I'm sure of that.   But I'm feeling up to the challenge.  He has forced me to grow in so many ways over the past few months, and the desire to grow even more is strong.   My will, however, is weak.   These little mortifications - and they really are little, but the attachment to them is STRONG - are necessary.   My attachment to the "things of this world" is too strong.   He's calling me to break those attachments.   Every $1 I currently spend on coffee (which is a lot.  I'm embarrassed to say how much) will instead be used to praise Him, instead of being used to strengthen that attachment to worldly things.   

Please pray for me.   I know that I'm going to suffer at times (especially the coffee!) - and I'd love to be able to offer those sufferings for one of your intentions.   If you have a prayer request that you'd like to let me know about, please email it to me here.