Monday, November 19, 2012

On Christmas

It started here.
“What does Jesus get for His birthday?”
The words hung… strung me up.
I say the words into the black. Um… A cake? Our love?
I can hear him turn again in the bed, roll over on the pillow. Restless…
“But Mom…. if we get wrapped presents for our birthdays, real sacrifices from people who love us — they gave up other things to give something to us — then why don’t we do that for Jesus’ birthday?”
I stand at the door looking into all that light cast down the hallway.
Why is the sky blue, why do we blink, how do clouds hold all that water, the children ask me a thousand questions and the world spins dizzy on a million questions I don’t know the answers to.
I stand in the dark, the light right there, and I grope for the answer that could change the world…
“Why don’t we give up things so we can give to Jesus for His birthday?”
- “If it is Jesus’ birthday, why do we give each other presents?”
And then I found this.

Which led us here.

Care to join us?

Or start your own campaign!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Assigning Motives, Extending Grace

My husband's cousin, Jenn, had a post a little while back that keeps coming into my mind.  She describes a frustrating experience with an anonymous driver who was trying to jump the toll line, but then has this realization:
What if he didn't know? What if it was an honest mistake? The line curved - maybe he thought it split into two. Maybe he didn't mean to cut. 
Now, this thought certainly didn't come from me. I'm not quick to extend grace, though heaven knows how often I need it myself. But there it was. 
And in thinking about it now, I wonder how often I'm quick to think the worst of people, quick to judge their actions. It's possible, perhaps even likely, that those people cutting in line knew exactly what they were doing and were just trying to get ahead. But it's also possible that they didn't. Why did I jump to the worst conclusion?
And why do I think of this tonight?  Because tonight I was the idiot who drove 4 miles down a windy country road with my high beams on.  

Quite often when I've started to get annoyed at this or that little thing that someone does, a quick scene jumps before my eyes where I've done either the same thing or something very similar.  It has been quite humbling, but I am profoundly grateful for this self-awareness.  It instantly diffuses the situation in my mind and brings me to a state of profound gratitude.  There is a prayer that comes to mind, but I can only half remember it.  It goes something like, "Lord, thank you for allowing me to see the depths of my weakness, and how it calls upon the abyss of Your merciful love." 

But I still wish I could remember to turn off my high beams.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Day in the Life: A More Typical Day

As I look over my notes from today, I'm both gratified to have done this and a little intimidated at the thought of typing it all up!  It is a busy and full life, but it is a wonderful one too.  And seeing my day scrawled out on this piece of binder paper next to me brings this home in a way I hadn't expected or experienced.  And I'm so glad to have the pictures that go with this day too.

Here's a quick summary of where the time went:

Reading out loud (mostly for school, includes narrations):  1 hr, 55 min
Prayer (alone and with kids, includes spiritual reading):  1 hr, 20 min
Cleaning:  50 min
Laundry:  30 min
Dishes:  1 hr, 15 min
Exercise:  1 hr, 5 min
School (in addition to reading out loud):  2 hr, 5 min
Personal (personal hygiene, email, blogs):  55 min
Personal learning:  30 min
Cooking:  2 hrs
Eating:  1 hr, 30 min

And overlapping with many of these things...  time spent with a 13 month old on my back:  5 hrs, 45 min!

6:19 - Up, praying morning prayer, Magnificat and Letter to the Hebrews

7:00 - Dressed, ready for the day, and downstairs.  Rolling out dough for donuts (because we're into healthy eating around here, folks!  Actually, this is a surprise treat for everyone - usually donuts are only done as a birthday breakfast around here.  The dough was made last night and rested in the fridge overnight)  Frying donuts, making chocolate glaze (might as well go all out!)

7:20 -  Breakfast.  Read Matt's latest NaNoWriMo installment, chatted with Matt and the kids.

8:00 - cleanup, sweeping, read The Very Hungry Caterpillar to Nathan.  Yesterday Emma was doing Alphabet Path with him and they did an activity about the life cycle of a caterpillar.  Nathan was so excited to see that we had a book all about this very subject!

8:25 - Trying to decide if I should change Justin or squeeze in my consecration reading.  Decided to change his diaper, then handed him off to Emma for dressing.  Read 33 Days to Morning Glory.

8:40 - Started prayer with the kids - Mass Readings, narration

8:55 - Justin goes in the Ergo.  Memory work for everyone, including me!  I'm working on the new translation of the Nicene Creed, Emma is working on "To be or not to be..." from Hamlet and Mark Antony's funeral oration from Julius Caesar.  Gregory is working on At the Zoo by A.A. Milne.  We also reviewed work they already know.

9:05 - World History read aloud - Augustine Goes to Kent, narrations

9:15 - MEP math with Gregory (or since it is from the UK, I should probably call it MEP maths) Lesson 48, Year 1.  Love this program - such a great combination of hands on, logic, problem solving, review, facts practice...  and it is free.  What a wonderful find, I couldn't be more pleased with it.  Emma did reading, Stack the States app for map practice, and XtraMath for math facts practice.  Nathan was crazy for a bit, then settled down to instrument 3 part cards, then building with sticks and blocks.  I practiced counting and grouping with him as Gregory worked on problems by himself.  Gregory also did the Dot to Dot app for some skip counting practice.

9:55 - Recess.  The boys played ball and Emma and I walked while she narrated from St. Columba by Forbes and Life in Celtic Times (not really narrated from this - more talked about pictures that she found most interesting)  Visited briefly with the UPS guy (delivered our new router, yay!) and my father-in-law.

10:20 - Copywork and weather observations for Gregory, and reading practice with his reader and with the movable alphabet.  Emma worked on Delta, and Nathan worked with letters.  I wanted him to do some letter cards, but he was much more interested in the letter magnets.  I bugged him a little bit, then seeing he was working industriously I let him work.  He fished out all the square letter magnets, carefully lined them up ("N leads the way on the happy parade!") then rearranged the magnets on the board to spell his name again.  Gregory wandered over to spell his name with magnets, then went back to his work.  After this Nathan seemed ready for another activity, so we did the letter cards together - he has the sounds for about half the alphabet at this point.

10:50 - Snack prep.  Half a homemade sourdough whole wheat bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon, sliced pear.  (see, it isn't all donuts around here!)

11:00 - Snack and read aloud.  Today it is Tree in the Trail.  Discussion and narration.

11:15 - Read from Abraham Lincoln to the boys, nursed Justin.  Narration.

11:35 - Boys out to play.  Quickly typed Emma's freewrite from Monday (she was retelling a fairy tale from another character's perspective).  Discussed with her how to expand and improve it, helping her to find some places to add description and dialogue.  Left Emma to flesh out her writing.

11:45 - Huge diaper change.  Happier baby.

11:55 - From Emma:  "Mom, it is fun to write giant-talk, especially when they are arguing!"  Justin is back in the Ergo, and I'm picking up from snack.

Noon - Angelus.  We gathered outside to pray with the boys.  Took lunch orders.  (PB&J for two, quesadilla for one, Leftover chickpea and veggie curry with rice for Justin and me.  Apples for all.)  Working on lunch, chatting with Matt.

12:15 - Justin is asleep, but wouldn't transfer to his crib.  Back in the Ergo he goes.

12:40 - Starting laundry, finally serving lunch.  We watched a video from Discovery Streaming about Salmon spawning in preparation for our fish hatchery tour on Friday.

1:00 - Clean-up, Emma has programming class with Matt.

1:15 - Reading to the boys.  A River Runs Wild, Sword in the Tree, A Drop of Water.  Gregory also read for about 15 minutes.  Justin went in the Ergo at about 1:30 and I read while pacing.

1:55 - Water dispersion experiment - was supposed to be just the boys, but Emma wanted to join in.  Justin is finally(!!) asleep and transfered to his crib this time.  Phew!

2:10 - American History read aloud, Judith Lankaster

2:35 - Read Captain Small to Nathan

2:45 - Boys out to play again, I start a Rosetta Stone Spanish lesson.  Emma is finishing up some of her schoolwork then goes outside for awhile to boss around play with the boys.

3:10 - Briefly check email, answered one

3:15 - Folding laundry, doing dictation with Emma.  She's trying to populate her recipe box with recipes she likes, so I dictated a pulled pork recipe for her to record on an index card.

3:30 - Justin is awake and crabby.  I nursed him and read blogs.

3:55 - Justin goes in the Ergo while I put away laundry, put up chores, and got ready for a walk.

4:10 - Walked the deer path at the top of the property down to the 30 acre property and back by the road with Emma, Nathan and Justin.

Alas, poor Yorick...

4:50 - Cleaning chores - dusting, cleaning a few windows.

5:10 - Dinner prep.  I made a double batch of chicken and black bean enchiladas, one for tonight and one to freeze.  I also added diced tomatoes, bell pepper and onions to some plain brown rice from Monday night and made a salad.

6:25 - Dinner is finally ready.  I was tired and not moving as quickly as I usually do.  Thankfully Matt came down and helped at around 5:30.  He also rode herd on the kids as they did their cleaning chores and picked up.

7:00 - Dinner is over, time to do dishes.

7:40 - Dishes are done, kids are in PJs and Matt is reading Little House in the Big Woods to the boys.  Emma is helping with Justin.

8:00 - Bedtime for the boys.  I say prayers with the boys in their room, then nurse Justin while I pray the Rosary.

8:30 - All the boys are asleep.  Whew!  I had a little dessert (a piece of cake that Emma made), made some tea, added up some numbers and started typing this.  And now it is 9:30.  And now that I've dumped photos, made some photo collages, and uploaded photos, it is 10:15!  I'm not sure I'll be doing this very often...  but still, I'm glad I did.  I enjoyed creating this.  I hope someone has enjoyed looking at it!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Day in the life: Election Day and Pretend to be an Extrovert Day

My, um, cousin-in-law(?), Sarah, has been hosting two weekly themes on her blog and while I've wanted to join in, I either can't remember to do it until the day has passed, or I can't remember what I've done over the last week well enough to cobble together a post.  This has led me to reflect that perhaps I need to think a little more about what I am doing on a day to day basis!  It isn't that I feel like I'm missing out on life because I'm too involved in my to-do list, but rather I'm generally present in the moment but forgetting just about everything shortly thereafter.  Some of it, I'm sure, is due to my semi-permanent state of sleep deprivation (Justin is still up 2-3 times a night, ugh!) but some of it is due to my lack of down time.  It is so much harder to reflect when I am always caught up in the doing.

So I've been thinking it would be fun to do "a day in the life" sort of post occasionally.  I would like to have occasional records so I can better remember what this phase of my life was like, and I'm hoping by doing this I might be able to make better memories in my own mind.

So, without further ado...  My election day and pretend to be an extrovert day.

5:45 - woke up with a jolt, all of a sudden remembering that in last night's exhaustion I left my homemade enchilada sauce cooling in a water bath over night rather than putting it in containers to freeze.  Justin and Matt woke up a few minutes later and we decided to get ready to hike.

6:05 - Matt, Justin and I hiked our usual trail.  About 4800 steps and 40 minutes.  And thanks to the time change, we don't have to wear headlamps anymore.  Hooray!

6:45 - back at home, everyone is up.  Dish out crockpot oatmeal for everyone, and tried to read my email while feeing Justin and myself.  Gave up after a few minutes, but went back to it for a bit once Justin was done.

7:05 - cleaned up in the kitchen, headed up for a shower.  Left the baby in Emma's capable hands.

7:30 - back downstairs, did some gathering for our errands and finally put the sauce in the freezer.

8:00 - realized that if I didn't do my morning prayer now, it wasn't going to happen.  Nursed Justin to keep him happy, prayed the Magnificat morning prayer and reflection, skipped my usual Bible and commentary reading in the interests of time, and read day two in 33 Days to Morning Glory.  Emma, the 10 year old, worked on schoolwork so she wouldn't have to bring as much with her.

8:15 - Justin is done nursing and I'm finished with my short form of morning prayer.  More getting ready to go and also starting on dinner in the crockpot.

8:35 - gathered the children for our morning prayer.  Prayed the Mass readings with the children and had them narrate the Epistle and Gospel readings.

8:50 - told kids to use the bathroom and get shoes on, then take stuff out to the car.  Finished up the meal in the crockpot (black beans with tomatoes and pork, using some extra pork I cooked on Sunday - thank you Leila for reminding me how smart it is to cook a little more meat while I'm at it!) while they loaded the stuff.  Thought about making the coleslaw I had planned, but decided I was out of time.

9:10 - in the car and heading out to a friend's house.  Listened to a couple of narrations, then we started listening to The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew (a Librivox recording I would recommend, by the way).

10:00 - At our friends' house.  The boys play and Emma plops down at the table to do schoolwork with the other kids.  My friend and I discuss California propositions as she finishes up her ballot.   The next few hours are spent visiting, helping kids with school work, and having a discussion about food and simplifying.  I'm trying to get a group of women together once a month or so to talk about these sorts of things.  This was our third meeting and while it went better than our second, I wish more people could have made it.  But sick kids, travel, and work schedules interfered.  But still, we had a good discussion about kefir, kumbucha, yogurt, trying to figure out which of these food things are worth doing.  We talked a little about simplifying Christmas, but that sort of petered out as people needed to leave and kids needed to be fed.  I also had a good conversation with my friend about how much I like being scheduled and following a schedule...  but I think to the point that I rely on it too much and it makes me anxious when it isn't there, or is there but isn't being followed and there's nothing I can do about it.  I tend towards anxiety anyway (especially since Justin's birth) and I am not sure I had realized how much I am managing anxiety by existing in my little scheduled world.  I don't think I'm on a fundamentally wrong-headed path, but I do think I need to open up our routine a little more so we can make more connections with other families.

2:10 - After a great conversation with the 15 year old daughter of my friend about her soon to be published book, we jumped in the car and headed out.

2:25 - Stopped in at the ranch and picked up two dozen eggs.  Since we've decided that a) we didn't want to keep a coop full of convenient bear snacks and b) we didn't want to build a concrete bunker chicken coop, we have been getting our eggs from a friend from church.  I miss the chickens and eggs, but I do not miss having to wake up in the middle of the night to scare off bears!!  And I like seeing my friend almost every week and getting a chance to keep in closer contact with her.

3:05 - Religious Ed. for Gregory, my 6 year old.  Justin and Nathan slept in the car while Emma and Gregory had a snack and played.  I chatted with some of the volunteers and tried to nicely explain why my family wasn't likely to ever go to the monthly Children's Mass.

3:25 - back in the car, and out to a local farm.

3:35 - picking strawberries - our last fresh strawberries until next June!  We picked 13 baskets and we'll be making jam tomorrow.

4:35 - Back in the car to go pick up Gregory.

5:00 - heading out again, now to the grocery store.  (So glad that most days don't involve this much running around!)  Everyone is in good spirits though, and we have fun shopping together.  I only ended up with one egregious purchase - two bags of Heath toffee chips.  They were on sale at least...

5:45 - off to the county elections office to drop off our ballots.  We went in and looked around - they were setting up to film local election announcements in the lobby.  It was busy, but by no means packed.  There were only a couple of people waiting in line.

6:00 - home!  Unpack the car, start some rice for dinner, quickly make the slaw in the food processor.

6:40 - Dinnertime.  Phew!

7:15 - Dishes, reviewing election results.  Emma starts in on her programming homework so she can be ready for her programming class with Matt at 1:00 on Wednesday.  Boys picked up and then played educational stuff on the iPad.

8:00 - I took Justin and hid upstairs for a bit to read a few blogs while Justin emptied out many of the contents of my bathroom drawers.

8:20 - feeling slightly less tired and overwhelmed, I got Justin ready for bed, and nursed him while praying the Rosary.

8:45 - Started typing this on my iPad, then remembered that Blogger doesn't get along well with Safari on the iPad.

9:00 - Gave up, came downstairs and remembered I was supposed to enter receipts tonight.  Sighed, decided to be responsible, and did it.  I was glad to see that there wasn't much to do.

9:20 - Checked out election results then switched over to typing this.  Now it is almost 10 and about time to go to bed.  I'll read this over once, add a few links, hopefully catch any truly horrible typos, write tomorrow's chores up on the frame, check the kitchen for anything that was left out, then head to bed.  I'll read today's Catechism section, maybe read a little of The Fire Within if I'm up to it, then go to sleep.  And I'll probably be up at midnight, three, and 5:30 again with a little guy who doesn't understand that 13.5 month olds should really, really, really be able to sleep through the night by now!!

I suppose it shouldn't be a surprise that I'm so tired these days...  but you know what?  It is a very good life.  And I'm extremely thankful for it.