Get over here and fast: Lent at my house

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Talking to Hubby last night, I asked if he remembered the “rules” of fasting for this week’s Ash Wednesday observance.  This is probably the first year I have not been either pregnant or breastfeeding (and so excused from the fasting obligation) in a long while, so I obviously would be forgiven for being forgetful about what the Catholic Church means when they admonish one to fast.

(BTW: The USCCB website states:

“For members of the Latin Catholic Church, the norms on fasting are obligatory from age 18 until age 59. When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal.”

Okie dokie.)

Most of my non-Catholic friends are completely baffled by a religion that tells one, among other things, what to eat and when (fish on Fridays during Lent) and makes you quit eating for certain amounts of time!  Of course fast and abstinence during Lent has a whole lot more theological significance than just the acts themselves, for which some are needlessly wrapped up in the idea of “stuffy old men in Rome telling me what to do” (to paraphrase a beloved relation of mine).

Observing Lent (the 40 days leading up to Easter) has, in recent times, become the deepest spiritual experience of my entire year.  Because, for me, meditating upon the willing acceptance of Christ’s impending death (and, by association, His Resurrection) and how that coincides with my own existence is both strangely comforting and, at the same time, disturbing.

And disturbing it should be.  Lent is about suffering.  And sacrifice.  And realizing that all the wonderful gifts and blessings in our lives are not things we should ever take for granted.

If you are anything like me, we spend most of our year wrapped up in ourselves, our own lives, our own families, our own rushing around trying to get Something Accomplished.  The frustrations we feel and the difficulties we face during the year are needless nuisances.  They are unfair.  They make us mad.  We don’t know why they are happening to us.  We’re good people.  We don’t deserve this!  We soldier on, perhaps getting burnt out with our daily lives.  We are trying to Accomplish Something after all.  Once we get that raise, once we get that toddler potty-trained, once we take that trip, we will have Arrived.  Let’s hurry up and get there.  And in the meantime, we have Lost the Point. 

For me, Lent helps me to get back where I need to be.  To make God #1 in my life where he should be, instead of having fallen pretty dang far down the list.

With God, I know what my priorities are and my goals.  His goals, not the world’s goals.  I know what is expected of me as a wife, and mother, and woman.  I don’t have to fear suffering, because with God, suffering can become beautiful.  I sacrifice for Him (in my measly little fasting and abstaining from meat) in celebration of all that His Son did for us.  It may be difficult, but it is nothing compared to innocently suffering and dying for a lot of people who didn’t deserve it.

Lent becomes a time of “centering” for my spiritual life.  And with life as crazy as it is, I really need it.

So what do we do for Lent in my house?

Well, in addition to the obligatory fasting and abstinence, this year, we are braving the 7pm mass on Ash Wednesday as a family.  I can should be able to count on the kids to behave later than their 8pm bedtime so we can do this as a family.

Luckily, everyone really loves fish so coming up with appetizing meal plans for the Fridays during Lent is easy.

To strengthen my faith in the next 40 days, I have committed to saying a decade of the Rosary every day (which becomes surprisingly smooth after a few weeks) and also….eeek…giving up alcohol (this one is going to be hard!).   I figured I could do it for my babies when I was pregnant, I should be able (with God’s help) to do it for Him!  I will keep you posted on this one!

I am also going to try harder to offer up my daily “sufferings” and frustrations to the Lord.  I am hoping this will make me a less frazzled and resentful homemaker (I hope) and help me to express my love to my family better.  Again, I will let you know how that goes!

If you celebrate Lent, what are your traditions or commitments?

 

 

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{7QuickTakes} in the midst of family dance party!!!!

So, it is Friday night and Hubby just called to say he has to stay late at work…ugh.  So I sit here with a glass of vino and KidzBop playing on the iPhone while the kiddos run around like banshees.  TGIF!  Here’s some more excitement akin to the party over at Kelly’s.

ONE.

Not gonna lie, some days parenting is hard.  Sometimes the kids are running around like banshees (oops, already mentioned that…mommy brain…) and you have a sinus infection and the LAST THING you wanna do is make another friggin’ peanut butter sandwich.  But then oldest daughter has to do her reading homework and decides it is a good idea to read to younger brother while channeling her first-grade teacher at storytime.  I had to smile.  So cute.

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TWO

I am not the most confident person in the world.  Luckily, as an adult I have been nowhere near where I was in that regard in high school!  However, I have been going through a rough patch lately.  I am just feeling…I don’t know….frumpy and uncool.  I think it has to do with it being February.  Not a fan of this month.  We’ve all been sick and stir-crazy and I am ready for spring!  But I think that since I’ve been fighting negativity on that front it has come over to bite me on the confidence front as well.  Nothing specific, just an overwhelming feeling of disliking myself.  This, too, shall pass, I know.

THREE.

But…but…something wonderful has happened to my sweet younger sis!  She is engaged!  Yay!  So happy for her and her young man.  We are looking forward to a fall wedding.

FOUR.

Since I suffer from depression, I have always been worried about my children ending up suffering from those sort of things as well.  My oldest, Junior, has always been extremely sensitive and intense.  This year he has been suffering from panic attacks and seems to experience anxiety that is really hard to get a handle on.  We have been in communication with his school counselor and she has been really great about teaching him relaxation techniques and just being available for him to visit with about his concerns.  However, it is scary when he gets so worked up that he can’t calm himself down.  He has especially been stressed-out this week about his upcoming karate testing and a school program where he has to memorize a speech.  It is really hard for me, as a parent, trying to help him through dealing with this anxiety, especially since he is only in 4th grade!  It seems too young to have the weight of the world on your shoulders.

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My favorite stress relief: the sunset out my back porch:-)

FIVE.

Bellie sat and watched the entire 3-episode special of Rick Steves’ Travel Skills television shows with me.  At first she was irritated that I wanted to watch that while I folded laundry (folding, which I hate…sometimes the only thing that gets me through is Rick Steves and wine), but then she was kind-of interested in the lovely locales Rick was visiting.  I think she was most impressed with the tiny Swiss alpine villages.  (I hope we can take the kids over there some day!)

SIX.

Oh the Trolls soundrack.  We have moved on from KidzBop.  Which I have something of an affinity for…I now have small ballerinas dancing to Anna Kendrick’s version of The Sound of Silence.

SEVEN.

I made a promise last weekend that I had to keep.  It was hard.

I let my kids do painting.

It was stressful.  It was messy.  Spike dumped an entire water cup of green-tinted water on the floor but did not seem concerned in the least.  I think they had fun.  And that is what motherhood is all about.

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I can’t resist making my children’s dreams come true.

Blessings for a great week ahead!

 

 

 

 

{7QuickTakes} Weekly mishmash: Vol. 15

I am feeling rather caught up in the whole “blahs of winter” right now.  It is still a little chilly, still a little wintry (although the ugly kind of winter, where the snow is partially melted and icy and dirty) and the sun plays hide and seek most days.  Add that to a severe cold…riiiiiiiiight after recovering sufficiently from the stomach flu….and I am feeling a little gloomy.

Of course it helps to remember that spring is in sight, that the blahs give away to warmer temperatures and being able to spend time outdoors without coats on.  So we soldier on…enjoy these Quick Takes and be sure to check out some more at Kelly’s !

ONE

I scored big at the Used Book Sale (referenced last week)!  Two giant piles of books for $8.00.  I am glad I brought along Junior, who helped me lug my treasures to my car.

TWO.

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Is this not the cutest Valentine ever?  I especially love the Quarter.  Not sure if the drawing is supposed to be of the Eiffel Tower or Big Ben, but I truly appreciated how the kids worked together to make this extremely thoughtful card.

THREE.

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I love this poster by Arnold Lobel

I have these really cute literary posters that I want to get framed and hang up in the kid’s “book corner”.  The problem is that they are odd sizes, and I am pretty sure I won’t be able to locate ready-made frames and will have to get them specially framed, which I hear is expensive.  I do want them framed, but wondering if there are cheaper options for odd specifications?  I am not very skilled at the whole DIY-thing so making the frames myself is probably not a great option.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FOUR.

I am thrilled to be able to bring dinner to a friend and her husband who recently adopted a baby.  They have had dreams of parenthood for years and I am so happy that their prayers have been answered!  I am so awed by how the Lord works through adoption.  Adoption has definitely proven to be a  blessing in my own (extended) family.  My little niece is so fiercely loved.  Thanks be to God!

FIVE.

Sometimes you just want to rub a corn dog on your head. #Spikesgreatideas

SIX.

I had a weird dream last night where all these people were being assassinated at our house (thanks, I think to the Kim Jong Nam assassination).  But apparently Dream Me was less concerned about people meeting their deaths at my home than that fact affecting our social life.  “Nobody’s going to want to come to our house anymore,” Dream Me told Dream Hubby.

SEVEN.

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Castle Combe, a Cotswold Village in Wiltshire. Courtesy of Saffron Blaze, via http://www.mackenzie.co

Trying to make a final decision on a mini-bus tour from London.  In the running: Warwick Castle, Oxford and Stratford-Upon-Avon; some sort of Cotswolds-centric tour; and Dover, Leeds Castle, and Canterbury.  Any suggestions?  I love the extensive history of Warwick Castle (plus what historian doesn’t find Warwick the Kingmaker fascinating – I loved his portrayal in the White Queen miniseries).  The Cotswolds, of course, are delightfully English.  And I have always wanted to see the White Cliffs of Dover.  Also, one of my best friends used to live in Canterbury and I would love to see where St. Thomas à Becket was martyred.  Hard decisions when you’ve only got one day to devote to one of these tours!

Wishing you a blessed week!

 

{7QuickTakes} Weekly mishmash: Vol. 14

I couldn’t stop laughing at Kelly’s 2nd Capsule Wardrobe post!  There are more funny folks over there, be sure to check it out!

One.

This has been week numero dos for the Great Stomach Bug of 2017.  Every time I keep thinking the family is finally through it, somebody else vomits in my car.  I was feeling better myself and then, a week later, was sick again.  So far, Hubby and Evvie have not gotten it, but the incubation period seems to be about 7 days, so I am sure this time next week I will probably be needing to buy more bleach.

Two.

Hubby and I don’t generally make a big deal out of Valentine’s Day.  Hubby also doesn’t generally send me flowers, particularly not for specific holidays – he likes the element of surprise, he says (which, also, he says, has nothing to do with forgetting most of the time).  One day I told him, “Gifts are my Love Language.  I wish you would think about sending me flowers once in a while”  and then the joke became him telling me, “I thought about sending you flowers today.”  I would always nod appreciatively and say, “Thanks, It’s the thought that counts!”

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In an about face, eschewing just The Thought of Sending Flowers, I received these via delivery on Tuesday.  Along with the card (no signature, who could they be from?:-)  Which leads us to

Three.

After the delivery guy left, I asked Spike who he thought could have possibly sent me these beautiful flowers.

Spike: I don’t know!  The guy that just dropped them off??

Me:  But why would he do that?

Spike: ?? Because he loves you??

So, if that is not a testimony to all husbands out there to set an example by sending your wives flowers more often, I don’t know what is.  You don’t want the children thinking there are random flower delivery guys who love your wives more than you do!

Four.

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I have to remind myself to be grateful for the quiet moments when they are getting along courtesy of Netflix.

Five.

I like to try to make Valentine’s Day special for the kids.  This year my goal is to make them hand crafted Valentines, complete with personalized love notes and carefully selected candy.  Haha!  Just kidding.  It is more like I will scatter some Hershey’s kisses on the table Tuesday morning, while scrawling I Love Yous on Post-it Notes.  It’s the thought that counts.

Six.

As soon as Hubby gets home from getting a haircut we are planning to do a major Slash and Burn of the kids’ bedrooms.  It has gotten Out. Of. Control.  They are pits of despair.  Well, mainly, dirty laundry, misplaced bric-a-brac, and garbage.  Oh the garbage.  Apparently the physical act of getting trash into the proper receptacle is lost on my children.  Except Bellie.  Because, for Bellie, there is no such thing as Trash.  It is all art.  Or could be used in the future for art.  At any rate, it is NOT WORTHY OF BEING THROWN.  This is why I need to clean out her room in secret, or if she is at school.  Otherwise what generally happens is that she tearfully picks through the garbage bag, taking out every last worksheet and piece of candy wrapper, saying, “Don’t throw away my stuuuuuuuuufffff”  It is dramatic.  Garbage might just be her Love Language.

Seven.

My library holds quarterly book sales of donated used books and withdrawn library titles.  I am mildly obsessed with used books.  I honestly have no need for any additional reading material right now.  I honestly have no more bookshelf space for any additional reading material right now.  But, yet…I am trying to decide if I should head on down to the library this weekend.  Just to see.  Just to browse.  Many books are 50 cents!  I am Rebecca and I have a book problem.  Anyone else?

Have a fantastic week!

 

 

{7QuickTakes}Weekly mishmash: Vol.13

Good day to you!  I am sitting at a local coffeeshop – by myself (doesn’t that sound scandalous?) – and I am happy to get my 7QTs in today!  See more at Kelly’s!

ONE

Hubby got back from a business trip yesterday.  I was really happy to get him back.  So were the kids.  He was only gone 5 days, but it was a LOOOONNNNNGGGG 5 days.  (See below Quick Take)

TWO

Stomach bugs while (temporarily) single parenting suck.  Stomach bugs while single parenting especially suck when they only hit said temporarily single parent while the children being parented are their own boisterous, exuberant, curious, and healthy selves.  I am glad that I was not having to parent sick kids while being sick myself, but….still.  I’m a complainer.  Edit: Bellie came home from school sick today….so….this might be the beginning of a fun weekend.  At least Hubby is home!

THREE

Six months to EUROPE!!!!!!!  I am feeling like everything is falling into place and can barely contain my excitement.  I need to work on the guilt feelings, though.  I mean, I can hardly sneak off to a coffee shop by myself on a Friday morning for an hour leaving Hubby with the two little ones without feeling like a complete worthless human being who is shirking her family responsibilities!  I will have to explore this idea more in future posts.

FOUR

Loving Victoria on Masterpiece.  I do think Jenna Coleman is a bit too pretty to play the illustrious queen, but oh well.  I am slightly obsessed with the Victorian Era, so the costumes and the hairstyles are completely thrilling to me.  Plus I think Victoria (who interestingly enough, was against women’s suffrage) was one of the most influential and fascinating women in the history of our modern world.

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Jenna Coleman as Queen Victoria at her coronation.  (Courtesy pbs.org)

FIVE

My mom is doing better.  She came through her surgery (to repair her leg) just fine, and is currently on the mend.  Talking to her on the phone nowadays she seems to be back to her old self.  It will still be weeks before she is permitted to put weight on her leg, but she seems to be wheeling herself around her house just fine, and other than being confined to the ground floor of her home, is doing well.  I have taken the suggestion to call her often – and I have been touching base with her via text daily, calling every other day.  If nothing else, I hope that this whole experience has convinced her that her children really do care about her.  We were all forced to break out of our mental business to actually reach out and make an effort to keep in touch.

SIX

I’ve got a dear friend who is going through a divorce.

There has been a group of us who have been friends for a long time.  We did a Bible study about Catholic Apologetics several years back together; it was so enlightening and educational for us, plus it brought us closer together as friends.  It definitely ranks as one of the best experiences I’ve had, and I have always felt that those of us who participated share a special bond.

Our families have hung out often, our husbands have gone out for beers together and helped each other with home improvement projects.  Each year we go to Bear Lake, Utah camping as a group and traditionally spent Super Bowl Sunday together.  Our kids are all friends.

Over Christmas, one of the couples split up under tense circumstances.  We are friends with both of them.  We like and respect both of them and want what is best for their kids, and their family as a whole.    But my friends and I are having a hard time wishing them a DIVORCE.  Especially in light of Catholic teaching, which we studied together in detail all those years ago.  We are not privy to all the information about the circumstances of their separation, of course.  There seem to be some seemingly insurmountable obstacles for them to stay together.  But….still……ugh.

It’s a sad situation all around.  We have tried to be supportive of our friend without bashing her husband.  We have been praying for them.  A lot.  And I truly believe that God has a plan for their family.

Still, anyone have any words of wisdom about supporting a friend (couple?) who is going through a divorce?  What are our duties as Christian/ Catholic friends?  Friends who believe in and confess the sanctity of marriage, especially when both parties in a divorce proceeding are convinced there is no hope for their marriage?  I am struggling here!

SEVEN

Well, as I type this, I can’t avoid the obvious:  my cuticles are a horror.  Winter wreaks havoc on my hands!  The air is so dry here in Idaho that dry skin is a matter of fact, but in winter it takes it up a notch!  My poor kids have inherited my problem; Bellie’s hands are dry and red ALL WINTER LONG unless she remembers to always always wear gloves when she goes outside (which doesn’t usually happen).   All of my kids seem to suffer from excema (particularly on their cheeks) during the winter.  My solution: Eucerin is my friend.  I buy an industrial size of the tub at the beginning of the winter.

 

 

I hope all of you are keeping warm and protecting your skin this winter!  Have a delightful weekend!