Sunday, April 14, 2019

When Survival Mode Meets Lent

I've been plagued by feelings of inefficiency this week. (Of course, by "this week" I mean "since Fire Baby was born" but you know,  let's not exaggerate here). More and more I'm becoming aware of the Things-I-Should-Be-Doing but for whatever reason am not, and it's got me down. Things like: meal planning, reading actual books, getting steps, drinking water, praying, smiling at my kids/spouse, planning ahead... I feel like I could go on, but even as I create this list my brain is seizing up.

And that's my problem, I have a thought, "Add this to my shopping list/calendar/to do list" and before I can write it down, I forget. Both to write it down and to actually do it. Oftentimes, the reason is a kid's need. But if I'm being honest, many times it's also just me being distracted. So I'm making my way through my days getting the stuff done that needs to be done (eat/wash/school/buy food/sleep (ha!)/repeat) but never making any headway on those "things that need to be done" (see above). The treading water metaphor comes to mind.

This is why I'm so grateful for the time my husband gives me on Sunday afternoon. I can do my  "Scholé Every Sunday" or just catch up on that nagging stuff. Unfortunately, more and more my Sunday afternoons are spent doing business, and less and less being spent on scholé.

I've already cleared some commitments off my plate - ones that clearly needed to be passed off for my health and family's happiness - but once you've done that, what else do you do? Just wait for the baby to start sleeping through the night? For the oldest child to turn 10 years old (the year when it supposedly "gets easier" according to this story) Ever since my 40th birthday this past February it's become a more and more urgent thought that I need to "get on with this" and not wait for some mythical day where everything's perfect, and the meaningful things in life happen consistently and with a cute mug of tea in hand.

(Though if the meaningful things do happen you can still have the cute mug o'tea)

I guess what I'm trying to say here is:
1. I feel old.
2. I feel tired.
3. I feel bogged down with the demands of life.
BUT I'm going to try very hard to not let these thoughts get me down.

It's also why I was so very grateful to find Ginny from Not So Formulaic and her Lenten study.  Her insight that "our Lenten obligation is in many ways met by the vocation of wife and mom," was the grace-filled word that I needed to hear. Lent this year arrived in the thick of all the feelings that I already had about not doing enough. I was (am) living in survival mode, and now, somehow, I have to do more? Pray *more*? Give *more*? Fast *more*? Well, yes... but No. I'm already fulfilling many of the obligations of Lent simply by being a mom of littles who are still quite dependent on me for everything. Instead, I needed a mind-shift: Lent is about "remembering ourselves back into the love of God" (a line from Laura at Mothering Spirit - who also spoke grace-filled words that I needed to hear). And remembering sounds like a spiritual practice that I can do.

So this Lent I've tried to remember the things that matter and move forward no matter how imperfectly I ended up doing it. Some weeks I woke up early and prayed a rosary (half-asleep with a recording - but a bad rosary is better than no rosary, right?) Some weeks I served my family by actually filling out the meal plan in advance. Some days I was able to fast from complaining (and some days not so much). Every Sunday of Lent I've done my "Every Sacred Sunday" journal and a little reading before doing the fiddly business of errands and such. Upon reflection, I see how God has used this time to lift my head from staring at my feet on the treadmill/waters that surround (choose whichever metaphor you prefer). It feels like coming up for air and finding myself inside the glorious lightness of grace.

God is good.

So good that as Lent comes to a close I'm finding myself thinking that the things I've "given up and taken up" I will continue to take up and give up. I'm not looking forward to Easter so that things can go back to normal. (Or as my son asked earlier this week, "When Easter comes can we give up Lent?") I'm looking forward to celebrating the Life Abundant that Jesus Is. You've read it here first: this year may go down in the books as the year I learned that Lent need not be dreaded. Which is good, because dreading something takes a lot of energy and now that I'm on the other side of the hill the words of Kimberly "Sweet Brown" Wilkins come to mind...

"Ain't nobody got time for that." 😎

Sunday, November 11, 2018

7QT - October - The Month That Would Not Stop

Well hello there, Internet Friend! Is it already mid-November? Not yet? That's good. Come in and sit down (you don't want to be outside right now anyway) and have a cuppa. Let's catch up!

I'm actually really glad to say that I survived October - there was just Soooo much going on. And most of it was really good! I picked out some of the highlights to share, and included a zillion few pictures as well because that's what we're really here for, right? But of course, since this is a 7QT, precedence says that I will not be able to fill all 7 takes with things from October. Thus, a few things from November fall in here too.

1. I got remarried! the same man. :)
Ain't he good looking?
We celebrated 10 years together this October and decided to have our marriage blessed by the Church to observe the occasion. In Church terms this is called a "convalidation ceremony" since the legal marriage already took place, and this was to make it a sacramental marriage.

I didn't expect to be quite so emotional this time around... but as I was in the back waiting for the ceremony to start, our lovely musician started to sing Ave Maria and I was overcome. 10 years has brought a lot of meaning to the words, "in sickness and in health, in good times and bad" - but time and again, God has proven faithful, and we in turn strive to emulate that faithfulness.

And yes, my guys wore kilts... how could they not? My husband and the Fire baby wore a McKenzie and the Little Dude wore Royal Purple because there was absolutely no other way that he would have worn a kilt unless it was his favorite color. We do what we gotta do (to get the pictures that we want)!

2. Fire Baby turned 1!
His birth last year rather eclipsed *our* anniversary (the nerve of that kid!), so this year our anniversary kinda overshadowed his birthday. But only a little! Cause this little man is cute, and we hadn't had quite enough cake yet.

3. On a related note, you may have heard that Northern California is on fire again... it is just awful. The fires this year are actually quite far away from us, but the smoke these past few days has been as bad as it was when the fires were actually *here* (which must speak to how bad the fires are up north!) All of this smoke and ash is getting lots of folks worried about what it is we're breathing in, and how it will affect us - so when I heard about the B-SAFE study out of UC Davis, I had to sign up. I am 99% sure that last year's fires had a direct impact on why the cute guy above arrived when he did, so I definitely wanted to make my contribution to science. It was kinda fun! I filled out pages and pages of questionnaires on the pregnancy, the birth and post-birth; and a nurse came to our home to get bio-samples from me and the little guy. Since our wee girl says she wants to be a "scientific researcher" when she grows up, I thought she would be interested in watching the nurse at work. And she was... until the needles came out. But even then, she was quite fascinated with how many vials I had to fill, and why the blood was flowing into them, etc, etc... I'm pretty sure after that visit I got to check the "science" box for our homeschool day. (Plus, they tell me I'll get a Target gift card as compensation for my time, so win-win!)

4. October was also the month-of-many-visitors! My parents and father-in-law came for Wedding 2.0, as did some dear friends.

This lovely friend was also pregnant at our first wedding!

And I also got to meet an internet friend, IRL - though our visit was so short it almost didn't get documented! (Consider this the documentation, because the pictures are on her phone 😂 ) Megan, I hope we'll get to see each other again - long enough to let the kids out of the car and play a bit! ;)

5. And of course, October is the month of pumpkins and trick-or-treating! This was the first year that I can confidently say that the kids had a full understanding of the holiday -- they were sooo excited to go trick-or-treating! The girl because she wanted the Switch Witch to bring her an amazing Lego set (keep dreaming hon) and the boy because, well, "I don't want toys. I want candy." He's a straight shooter, that one.
He's Elsa and she's a "Kittywings Mail Carrier". I'm their mother!
6. Ok, well, she didn't have to dream for too long - since she turned 6 less than a week later and got the Lego set of her dreams (mostly).

She also got a cake with Daring Do on it. (And Daddy says making that happen was was the best $30 he's ever spent. 😏 )  I'd love to wax philosophical about how my baby girl is 6, but truth be told, that may have to wait for another day when I have a bit more energy. These 7 Quick Takes are hardly ever quick!

7. And they hardly ever stay on theme! So for my parting take, I offer you a suggestion for this Friday's feast of St Margaret of Scotland. Typically I've made a steak pie for the day, but since this year her feast day is on a Friday (and we abstain from meat on Fridays) we're going with a classic Scottish dish: the Macaroni Cheese pie. I know what you're thinking: noodles in a pie crust? With cheese? But like other Scottish delicacies (i.e, the deep fried Mars bar, haggis, and chip butties) you can't knock it till you try it. And don't forget to say your grace after the meal when you're done! (h/t Kendra Tierney) That's what St Margaret would have wanted.

Head over to Kelly's for more 7QTs (and possibly some better recipes and/or laughs) 😄

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Wait. Why am I Catholic again?

“Oh! You have a blog? What’s it called?”

I think I had trouble answering this question even before last week. You know... you start a blog and come up with what you think is a really clever name, and then the longer it’s around the more you wonder, “Why in the world did I think *that* was a good name??”

Then the news breaks from Pennsylvania of the truly horrific crimes perpetrated by members, nay LEADERS, of your very church and it gets me thinking again: Wait. Why am I “Catholic Again”?

Is it because of a priest? Is it because of the Church? The Pope?

Well, yes… and No.

My experience and encounters with God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - can’t easily be separated from the people who were “there when it happened.” I was baptized by a priest, received first Holy Communion from a priest, was sealed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit by a bishop. A priest hears my confession. These are all big things!


No one else was there when I heard God ask me: “Will you give this up for love of Me?”

No one else felt the joy in my soul when I realized, and accepted for myself, the Jesus died to save me - a sinner - and that He loves me!

No one (or maybe very few people) look at a hot air balloon and see an answer to prayer. But I will always be reminded of how God answered a special (but by no means, unique) prayer of mine.

The Catholic Church may have been a mediator in the big events of my faith life - but it has not ever been the determinator of my faith life. Which is to say, I am not Catholic because of the church. I am a Catholic because I love Jesus and I do my best to follow Him.

But some would say, “How can you stomach even being a part of an organization that harbored such predators?” And to be honest, I can’t. I’ve been feeling nauseous, losing sleep… and trying to live a normal life taking care of my family and myself. (This is *nothing* compared to what the victims have endured). But something a fellow blogger wrote really resonated with me: she said (and I’m paraphrasing), “When someone breaks into your home, you don’t just abandon your home forever. You get the police and you clean out the burglars. You fix the damage. You make it a safe place again.” That’s the only response that makes sense to me. Yes, I’m angry and want nothing better than to flip some tables or call down some Holy-Spirit-purifying-fire -- but if I do it only out of anger, I’m in danger of falling into sin myself. (A brilliant little Twitter thread about this is here: Secondary battles)

It’s funny. When the scandal broke last week, quite a few bloggers talked about how relieved/comforted they were to hear their priest address the issue publicly. So thinking I might be similarly relieved/comforted, I anxiously awaited going to mass today to hear what Father would say. But, not only was Fire baby completely out of sorts, the little dude and the wee girl were having a hard time keeping it together as well. For the first time in a long time, I actually spent near all of Mass outside with the baby. I missed the homily completely and most all the announcements as well. Figures, right? I *did* just say that I’m not a Catholic because of a priest, but because of Jesus. So, who do I really want comfort and encouragement from anyway?


A while ago, Sarah Bessey wrote about how she became disillusioned - gratefully disillusioned - with the leadership of her church. In it there were some lines that have stuck with me over the years:
I no longer look to you as my shepherd. What a relief to you, I imagine!
No, I look to Jesus as my Shepherd. You can be my pastor, you can be my teacher, you can be my friend.
And this is freedom.
For both of us, do you see?
We need that kind of freedom in our Church - the kind where consecrated Religious aren’t held up on a pedestal or held to impossible standards, the kind where lay people are free in their relationship with God, not feeling like they should have an intermediary or some sort. This is a bit of a digression, I admit. But when you recognize that these scandals were born out of the sin of clericalism, predatory lust, power, and addiction to money… then I have to ask, “If this kind of freedom lived in the Church, would this scandal have ever been possible?”

I don't have an answer to that question... nor much of an ending to this post. I'm still trying to figure out my actual response to the events that have happened (beyond these words, cause as we all know, words without action mean little). All I can offer right now is my prayer:

O Lord, Send out your Spirit and renew the face of the Earth!

Lord, hear! Lord, pardon! Lord, be attentive and act without delay, for your own sake, my God, because your name is invoked upon your city and your people! (Daniel 9:19)

Jesus, please bring justice and healing to those hurt; and protect the innocent.

Mary, Mother of the Church, pray for us.

Monday, August 6, 2018

What the what? (a.k.a. Life's little interruptions)

Last week I posted a picture of my cat on Instagram...

Turns out people don't mind their IG feed being interrupted by my cat as much as *I* mind my sleep being interrupted by my cat. Funny how that works.

So anyway, I was just going to go to sleep (notice the theme here?) when I got an email from my lovely internet friend, Alicia, saying that voting for the SHEENAZING Awards was up, and she was nominated! (Not just once, mind you, but 4 times!!) (She is that great, btw. Check her out and do vote for her)

Of course, you may be wondering what the Sheenaze is a Sheenazing Award - and that is ok, dear reader - for this person will tell you exactly what it is. And why should I steal their thunder?

But the point here is that I, too, was also nominated - and holy schmoly - look who I got sandwiched between!

Well, that's it. Sleep is not going to happen here tonight, y'all!!! I'm far too excited! The folks on this list are the REAL DEAL. And I'm not quite sure how I got to be counted in their company (actually, I do know, and all four of my votes are going to her.)

So here's the real point - and I'll try not to be too sappy - but it's not too much of a stretch to say that this blog wouldn't exist if it weren't for the Sheenazing Awards. It was 2015 and I was happily reading my from my handful of totally Christian (but not Catholic blogs) when one of them was nominated for a Sheenazing Award. And of course, like you, I wondered what in the world that was, so I clicked on the link and found Bonnie... and then Kendra... then Haley... then Mary... then Kelly... then Rosie... then Alicia... then Shannon... then Laura... and on and on and on. I had no idea that Catholic blogs existed! Which of course also meant that I had no idea that Catholic *bloggers* existed - and therein lies the rub. The Sheenazing Award is a huge touchstone on my path to why I'm "Catholic Again" because prior to finding these lovely women, I didn't know that one could be Catholic AND in love with Jesus AND younger than 45 (gosh I hesitate to write that last part, but shoot there it is). My experience with Catholics who truly loved Jesus was *very* limited - and whenever I contemplated returning to the Church all I could think of was how lonely I would be, what with age difference and all. But these awards showed me that there were women, Catholic women, my age, who loved Christ! Far more than I ever realized - and that gave me hope. It was just one more way of God reaching out to me and saying, "I see you. You will never be alone."

So be encouraged! And be uplifted! If God sees me, then most assuredly God sees you too. And hey, maybe all it takes is a little Sheenazing for us to become convinced of that truth.

Do learn more about the Sheenazing Awards here - and if you feel so inclined - cast your vote, too!

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Putting the Rest in "Restful Learning" (SES #04)

One of the definitions of scholé is that it is "restful learning." As happens often (so I've been told) this Greek word has no English equivalent. When it is translated, "leisure" is the term used most often, though its connotations are "being at leisure to pursue philosophy" rather than our first association with "being at leisure to take a cruise."
So, I'm going to go out on a limb here and make a guess that taking an afternoon nap is NOT scholé... however, dear reader, that is what I did today. Thus, there are no written narrations of what I read to offer you.
Pretend that remote control is actually a book, mmmkay?

I know it's hard, but I'm sure you all understand.

In the meantime, you may want to head on over to the Scholé Sisters website and make a plan to join them on September 15th for their online retreat (or if you know me IRL - come join me!). It will be  a day to scholé at its finest - no naps necessary.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

I Finished a Book! For Myself! (SES #03)

You guys! I finished reading a book! It's been forever since I could say that!

Me finishing a book is about as mythical as me sitting on a toadstool reading a book.
It's not for lack of trying... Goodreads says I have 8 books that I'm "Currently Reading" (and the funny thing, is only two of them are ones that I'm actually making progress on... the other ones that I'm making progress on aren't even on my Goodreads list!)  (Maybe I should update that.)  (Or not.)

The point is - it's been ages since I could have the satisfaction of closing a book with a sense of accomplishment - and today that award goes to me and the book "Real Learning: Education in the Heart of the Home" by Elizabeth Foss.

But first, a scholé stor-ray:

Today is the 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time - ordinary time in the Church is devoted to sharing the stories of the regular days of Jesus' life. Of course, a regular day with Jesus would never be considered such by us - how many of us can say, "Oh, it was just a normal day... cleansed a few lepers, gave a blind guy sight, fed 5000 people with a can sardines and a loaf of bread."?  I can't. But Jesus can!  Every Sacred Sunday writes, "These are ordinary days filled with extraordinary stories that encourage us to echo this radical love in our every moment."

Today's radical love moment showed Jesus caring for his disciples' physical, mental and emotional health. "Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while," He says. Father picked up on this theme and spoke about the great need we have in our life for quiet. Why? It is in the quiet that we are reminded of our purpose; we are reminded of who we are. Who are we? We are children of God, and our souls have a great desire to see Jesus and be seen by Him.

I spent a great deal of Mass trying to tell my children, "Shh! Listen to Father! He's saying that Quiet Time is good for you! AND for Mommy!" (Something I've been trying to tell them myself for a while.) Jury's out on how well that message was received... let's just say that their collective behavior did not earn them chocolate milk from the coffee shop afterwards.


Sigh. It made me grateful for the alone time I knew I would be getting in the afternoon.

And then I got to the coffee shop, pulled out Real Learning, and read this:

"Burnout occurs when we are out of sync with God.... Set aside fifteen minutes at the beginning of each day to be alone to meditate."

and then this:

"Your emotional goal absolutely should be to find time to be alone."

Hmm... I began to think. "Is God trying to say something to me today?" This last chapter of the book was written to homeschooling moms who may be experiencing burnout, but even Foss wrote that it would have "preventative value for women who are not burnt out" (a category I currently place myself in).  And now the coffee shop is playing this over the speakers.

Apparently I need to listen up!

But it's true right? If we aren't right with God, all of our relationships are going to be out of whack and most of what we do will feel futile as well. To that end, I'm grateful for this Sunday Scholé time (thanks, Honey!!) but I'm hearing that I need this daily. So how to make that happen? I'm open to all tips and tricks here... though I suspect it will really just need to be me with a Nike attitude:

What are we waiting for?? Let's do this!

How are you going to scholé this week?

Sunday, July 15, 2018

In Which I Scholé In My Coupé

Usually when my DH gives me the afternoon to go read (or just drink a cup of something in peace) I go and visit the nearest chain caffeine-providing establishment... you know, the green one... with the coffee. But I'm sorry to say it's been getting more and more sketch at these places - at least the ones around me. So today, I took my reading to the car:

It's more comfortable than it seems... warm seats, quiet environment. I won't necessarily say that it's cleaner (as my picture clearly attests - *ahem*), but at least it's *my* dirt.

On the docket today was Every Sacred Sunday and Know and Tell

Every Sacred Sunday
Today was the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time and because we had a party to go to later, we went to an earlier Mass at a different church. My children love this church because the walls are huge, floor to near-ceiling stained glass:
Photo by Juan Tamayo
I barely heard a word from the service (some days are just like that) but that's why I appreciate this journal. It has all the readings printed for me, with a place to write down notes (should I hear anything from the homily). The words I heard today focused on God's action: God calls us, God loves us - and we respond! Hopefully in the affirmative.

Know and Tell - Chapter 3: Principles of Narration
Principle #1 - Use high quality literature. Serving our students the literary equivalent of dry oatmeal benefits no one.
Principle #2 - Read it once. Don't interrupt. You may ask a question when the child is finished, but it is better to leave the student in a place where they know they have forgotten something than to "help" them fill in those details.
Principle #3 - Review previous narrated material regularly. Ask "What did we read/learn about last time?" Also do end-of-term assessments (approx every 12 weeks).
Principle #4  - The narration must be the child's (see Principle #2). When you ask questions, you disrupt the child's thought process and they become dependent on *you* to supply the questions again and again.

I also started Chapter 4: Building Fluency
Narration as an educational practice should begin at age 6, and not before. You can welcome them as they come naturally (and make sure to let the student know what they are doing, "What a great narration! I can see just what you're talking about!") but do not make them a requirement before age 6. Also, do not expect too much for the first year or two (!). The best lines about this came here:
"With a new narrator, almost anything can happen... In fact, the average six-year-old on the couch can dash an educational theory to pieces in a matter of moments, or so it would seem." 
Or this gem...
"If you think of narration as a child's oral "picture" of what she has heard, you can compare her progress with that of a budding artist. The enthusiastic two-year-old gripping a crayon in her fist is happy to be getting color or lines on paper. In the same vein, beginning narrators should simply be encouraged to use words--their own words--to "tell." If the result is as impressive as a two-year-old's scribble, that is what you should expect." (emaphasis mine)
Cheers to scribbles and babble! How did you scholé this week?

PS - I don't really have a coupé... but did you know that the word coupé comes from the French couper, "to cut (in half)" and was used in the 19th century to describe a shortened carriage that had no backseat? It was first applied to a closed 2-door automobile in 1908.