Thursday, August 07, 2014

Small Success Thursday, No. 9

Eight weeks! That's how long it has been since I last participated in Small Success Thursday. That's entirely too long to go without acknowledging my small successes in my every day life. Often it's because I get caught up in all the things that I don't get done or the failures all around me that I can't even recognize the small things that I have done well.

And that is what Small Success Thursdays are all about at CatholicMom.com. It's the small things!! Let's take a brief moment to celebrate those.

#1
I managed to have all lunches made, breastmilk bottles poured, water bottle filled, and all daycare bags ready to go on Sunday night this week. I can't remember that last time I was that prepared for a Monday morning. And then we made it out of the house right at 8 AM as planned. The best part, was that I didn't have to do any yelling to get us out by 8. Still lots of constant reminders and pushing everyone to keep moving, but not yelling. This one might count as two successes!

#2
I managed to clean off a portion of my desk at work. I hate how cluttered and overgrown my desk is. And it's a big desk too. The desk is in a square shape with three of the four sides being desk space the the fourth is open. On the open side I actually have a library book truck full of stuff too. So I end up with a little walkway between the book truck and the third side of the desk for me to escape from. Monday I finally tackled a large box that was sitting on my desk and finished all the things in it by Tuesday and the box was able to be moved. It opened up the space enough for me to see a few other things sitting in that same area that were relatively easy to get done. And tada! I could see my desk again!!

The best part about cleaning off a section and getting some things accomplished, is that it gets me motivated to tackle a bunch of other things. I'm starting to put some dents in a few other piles of stuff and shelves of materials sitting around my office, not just on my desk. It's amazing!

#3
I have been doing so much better including some form of daily prayer in my day each day. This has always been a struggle for me. Lately, I have been using the Honor Your Inner Monk app and it's been great. The app keeps track of how many times you do the morning and afternoon prayers and at the end of the month gives you an "assessment." It keeps giving me the "wha-wha-whaaa" sound and a message that "You can do better." That may not sound good, but I've been doing the morning prayer practically every day and despite what the app tells me, I'm pleased with that. I have a harder time getting to afternoon prayer. I'll work on that later. #innermonk

Normally I would link up to the Small Success Thursday post at Catholic Sistas. But it has not yet been published (or maybe there isn't one this week?). I'll link it up later if it pops up, but wanted to go ahead and post mine. Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Lawn Chair Catechism, Week 10: Steamrollers

Despite my inability to actually write up a post each week, I am reading along. I have gotten a bit behind here and there but not so much that I couldn't easily catch up. I have to say, this book is perfect for someone like me. The chapters are relatively short and it's an easy read. It's packed full of great information, but presented in an easy to follow way.

That being said, I really wanted to write a post last week but simply ran out of time. Last week's chapter was on the sacraments of initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist). It really had me reflecting on the importance of these sacraments and especially on witnessing my own children's baptisms. I've still not shared pictures from either Baptism, and I have some really nice ones. I may still. One day.

But let's move on to the healing sacraments: Penance and Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick.


I have a love-hate relationship with the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. My first one was in the second grade. For my second, I was in my mid-twenties, probably around 26 or 27 at the time. That's a long time to go without the graces of this sacrament. I remember how wonderful it was to finally go again. I had gotten to a point where I understood the importance of Reconciliation and knew that I needed to go again (after many years of poor catechesis followed by years away from the Church) and wanted to go, but was scared to take that next step. I ended up at a retreat and knew that was my time. I remember being a ball of nerves prior to going in and then feeling amazingly light when I walked out. I totally felt like a new person.

I thought of this when Paprocki says "that at our deepest core, we are unable to sustain ourselves." In other words, we need God's graces to survive in this world. I certainly felt this that day that I went to the sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time in 20 years. We are all sinners and we need Reconciliation to help us grow as Christians. We need to physically voice our sins and hear that we are forgiven. We are physical beings so it only makes sense that we engage all our senses in seeking God's forgiveness.

I'm still not very good about going to this sacrament, but at least I've gotten a bit better. It always takes me a while to get up the gumption to go, but once I'm there I'm always grateful that I made myself do it. It's been harder since I've had little children in my life. I'm pleased to say that my church is adding times for Reconciliation on Sundays, right before and right after the Mass that we usually attend. It's just once a month, but hey, better than nothing and it's very doable for both myself and my husband. I'm already planning on going at one of the next opportunities I have. Can't wait!

I love, too, how this is one of the sacraments of healing. I think we often forget that our soul needs healing as well. Even more reason to not take this sacrament for granted. We need to take advantage of the availability of it and try to go on a regular basis. And I'm talking to myself here too. As I said at the beginning of this reflection, I have a love-hate relationship with this sacrament. It's so hard to make myself go, and yet the wonderful feeling of forgiveness is unbeatable.

The Church needs to see a resurgence in people taking advantage of the sacrament of Reconciliation. Can you imagine how strong the Church would be if more people were receiving the graces of Reconciliation on a regular basis?

This post is being linked up to the Lawn Chair Catechism series on CatholicMom.com. Go check out the post for Week 10 HERE for discussion questions and more discussion and reflection on both the sacraments of Penance and Reconciliation and the Anointing of the Sick.

Friday, July 25, 2014

7 Quick Takes in which I make cookies, brag about babies, and much more


--1--

Sorry for the recent dry spell on the blog. I had quite a run there for a bit in June, but then life got a bit busy. Sometimes it's best for my energies to be elsewhere and the blog suffers. But that's okay. It happens. If you've followed me for very long at all, you know that I always come back. Eventually. So what has been going on lately? Well, let's review ...

--2--

We hosted our group of aspiring Benedictine Oblates for an evening this month. St. Benedict's feast day was July 11, but we couldn't get together that day. So we got together the next day instead. I decided to make cookies for the get together and intended to write a blog post to share my accomplishment, but ... well, see #1 above. So here's the short version. It was a "simple" sugar cookie recipe. "Simple" only applies if you've rolled out dough before, which I had not. Ever. As a matter of fact, I don't think I've ever used the rolling pin for anything but flattening chicken, which requires no actually rolling. And then there was the decorating icing, something else I had never done before. It ended up being a late night. A few pictures of my cookies:
Working on rolling and cutting the cookies
Icing the tops to look like St. Benedict's medal

A close up.

Finished plate. Personally, the chocolate ones were my favorite.

--3--

Silas is now 7 months old. As of this past Saturday. He's such a cutie!!

--4--

As you can see in that picture, he is also starting to get on his hands and knees. He isn't crawling yet, but I bet he will be soon. This kid is always moving. He kicks his legs all the time, does "the Superman" when he's on his belly on the floor, and he's gotten really good at turning himself around to look in different directions. He's so active that I'm a little worried. Once he is mobile, he's probably going to give me a run for my money!

--5--

We have started trying to give Silas solid foods. This week we've given him some banana pieces to play with at dinner. He gets some in his hand and gets a taste, but doesn't seem to want to do more than that. Thursday night after he played for a while with it, I gathered up the pieces, mashed them up, and attempted to let him taste it on a spoon. He has yet to take to a spoon. However, I let Hubby take over and he must have the magic touch. Silas got a good taste after that and seemed to get a bit more interested. We're going to keep working on it and I hope we can get him some avocado, carrots, and sweet potato soon. 

[Side note: he had another appointment Thursday to check his weight and he needs more calories. He's not losing, he is gaining, but not a lot. He's healthy though, so we just need to try to encourage him to up his calorie intake. We're not too worried.]

Silas starting to realize he can eat this stuff Mommy and
Daddy have been giving him all week.

Mmm, that spoon tastes good!

--6--

So, we had an interesting weekend just last weekend. I'll spare you all the details and try to give the short version. Peter was sick on Friday and by lunch time I wasn't sure that he was going to get better on his own, so I called the doctor. We spent 2+ hours at the doctors office, including going down to X-ray and having the pediatrician bring in at least two other pediatricians to listen to him. By 4:30, I told Hubby to meet me there so I could go get the other two from day care (since I knew that Silas, especially, needed to eat and I was the only one who could feed him). So Hubby took Peter to the ER where they spent another 2-3 hours. While in the ER they determined that he had pneumonia and they admitted him (some of that ER time was just waiting for a room up in the Children's Hospital wing). So Peter spent the night (Hubby and I ended up switching places, with help from a friend, and I spent the night with Peter). He was discharged the next day and we were home by lunch time. He has been doing so much better since!!

Since coming home, he has been using the nebulizer three times a day, is on an antibiotic, and is running around playing like any normal 3 year old. He sounds great! Now we're also dealing with a horrible diaper rash (thanks to the antibiotic) which I believe is now also a yeast infection. So we have probiotics to help with that and I need to call and see if I can get a prescription diaper cream. Oh the fun!

The Children's Hospital has a program (unit? something?) called Child's Play. We were visited on Saturday by a lady from the program who asked if she could get us any movies or toys. At that point I knew we were being discharged soon, so I told her maybe a couple puzzles to help us pass the little bit of time we had left. She came back with a pack of three puzzles and a Batman toy. AND ... she said we could keep them. They were all brand new and in the packages still! I was shocked! And grateful. Peter was SO excited. Once we were home he insisted on taking pictures with his new toys.
This is a "monster" truck the pediatrician gave him on Friday.
She was his best friend after that!

Peter with his Batman toy. SO excited!!

--7--

Garden update!! We have stuff growing! Hubby even picked some of the yellow squash:
Our first vegetable harvest! Ever!

BONUS take: I had the opportunity to review a DVD from Ignatius Press! It got published on Catholic Sistas last Friday. Check it out HERE. I enjoyed having the opportunity to do a review for them and I hope I'll get to do some more.

Jen Fulwiler, usual host of 7 Quick Takes, is busy with the Edel Gathering this weekend. I hope there will be more such gatherings in the years to come. You can follow the event at hashtag #edel14. So, filling in for Jen this week is Carolyn Svellinger. I'll be linking up to her post. Go on over and visit and check out all the Quick Takes posts!! It'll be a fun time.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Garden Update

Thursdays are usually for Small Successes at CatholicMom.com, but I'm not feeling all that successful at the moment, even with the small stuff. Instead, how about an update on our little garden!

A few weeks ago I posted pictures HERE of our new garden getting started. Just the finished boxes, put in place, and filled up ready to go. Since then we've been watching it slowly grow. Here are just a few current pictures.



So here is a view of the full garden. My husband put together a cage of sorts with some PVC pipe and a green mesh and put it over the bush beans that you see on the left side of the picture. We have lots of rabbits around here and they like the bean leaves. So far, no rabbits have gotten in. Next to the beans Hubby planted a bell pepper plant and one plant each of yellow squash and zucchini. In the box in the back of the picture are 4 tomato plants (where Hubby is standing) and basil.


It's a teeny tiny bell pepper!! Isn't it cute? It's about an inch tall. I can't believe we are growing things that we'll be able to eat one day. Can you tell I'm a total newbie to this. I'm sure my husband is amused.


We also have the start of some tomatoes. I tried to get a picture, but apparently I wasn't very successful.


And just for fun, here is how my children like to ride their bikes: over to the landscaped corner of the yard where they can play in the dirt. And apparently it is cool to pile the dirt on the seat of the bikes. Doesn't that sound like fun? I don't think so, but I'm not a three year old boy. The three year old boys find it incredibly fun! They crack me up.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Lawn Chair Catechism, Week 6: Union Workers

I gave myself a challenge this summer to read along with CatholicMom.com the book A Well-Built Faith and to blog about it. I knew it would be hard to squeeze in the time to not only read but to also write a blog post each week. And since this is week 6 and it's only my 3rd post, I'm obviously not quite meeting the challenge. But here we are once again, I'm not giving up! So on to our Law Chair Catechism discussion:


This chapter was chock full of information! Full to the brim! I don't even know where to start, so it's good that we have access to the leader's guide with some helpful discussion questions. The first two questions really get to the heart of what I took away from this chapter. I'll just touch on each of those.

What does it mean to say that spirituality is not just a slice of the pie that represents our life, but is the whole pie?

There is an exercise in this chapter where Paprocki lists several things that make up our daily life (work/school, eating, sleeping, play, family, exercise, spirituality, etc.) and asks the reader to create a pie chart in which you show what percentage of your time is spent on each of these things. I've done something similar to this before in leadership/management classes or workshops and in a "Seven Habits," Steve Covey seminar I did once. I was tempted to do it again because it is always an eye opener, but I ended up skipping it. I knew what it would reveal and it wouldn't have been pretty.

What I wasn't expecting was for Paprocki to then tell us that the spirituality component shouldn't be just one small (likely embarrassingly small) slice of the pie, but it should encompass the whole pie. Everything we do should revolve around our spirituality.

Reminds me of when St. Paul tells us to pray without ceasing.

Then I read this question and I thought about recent events. Hold onto your hats, I'm delving into current events:

The Hobby Lobby, Supreme Court lawsuit that came out this week is all a result of people who are trying to live and breath their spirituality. Their religion, their faith, their spirituality has infused itself so much into their daily lives that it influences their work life as well. It is commendable.

It is so easy to check our religion at the door, to keep it to that one hour on Sundays and not bring it home with us. But then we are nothing but frauds. We need to remember always that we are sons and daughters of God. We need to be charitable and loving to all those we come in contact with so that they wonder what makes us so special. We need to let our Catholic faith influence how we do our business, raise our families, and interact with our everyone we meet in our lives. We need to consider what our faith teaches us when we vote for public officials and people to represent us on every level of government.

That is freaking hard! Yes, we are going to fail. But we need to keep trying ("Always we begin again" as St. Benedict says). We should set aside time throughout our days to stop what we are doing and spend even just a few moments in prayer. We should make our work a prayer, whether your work is filing sales reports, cleaning the house, working at a retail store, going to school, changing diapers, running a business, whatever it is offer it up as a prayer.

This is something that will be a difficult challenge for me. But I think (I hope) I'm up for it.

What's the difference between belonging to the Church and being the Church?

It's so easy to think of church in terms of the parish we attend each week. That's the "church" where we know people, where we give our money, and where we spend time each week. We may know intellectually that our one parish is part of a much bigger, universal, world-wide Church, but it's often hard to completely grasp what that means. We don't see it, especially if we live in an area with only one Catholic Church.

I think for me, as I came back into the Church fully, I got a sense of the world-wide Church on a smaller scale by being a member of the Cathedral parish in my diocese. Between that and some involvement I had for a short time on the diocesan level I was able to expand my horizons some and see the Church as a bigger body than just my one parish. Of course, the Church (with a capitol C) is 100+ times bigger than that. But the point is, I, all of us, don't just belong to a parish or belong to the Church, we are the Church.

There would be no Church without the people, you and I, in it. Reminds me of the song that goes "We are all one body ..." (which I realize is based on Scripture, but the song is what popped into my head first). Jesus came to save and he left us a Church so that we could all be one. He didn't leave us a building, he left us a leader. We just celebrated the feast day of St. Peter and St. Paul this past Sunday. Jesus called Peter the "rock" upon which He would build His Church. Peter was just a man, a poor fisherman, but he became the leader of the Apostles and the foundation upon which the Church was built.

How interesting that it was a person. We are all people and together we make up the one body that is the Church. When I think of it that way I really begin to see how much bigger the Church is then just the millions (billions?) of people on this earth who are members of the Catholic faith. Do you see it, too? It's the communion of saints!

The communion of saints: all those who have been received into Heaven, all those who are being cleansed in Purgatory, and all of us here on earth, still fighting the good fight. All of us together, saints in heaven and saints-in-the-making on earth are members of the Church. We ARE the Church.

How cool is that?

For more discussion on Chapter 6 of A Well-Built Faith: A Catholic's Guide to Knowing and Sharing What We Believe by Joe Paprocki, go visit the Week 6 discussion at CatholicMom.com.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Bored Puppy Syndrome and Other Odds and Ends

Recently a friend of mine referred to her young children as bored puppies. The reference was to the craziness that seems to come out of nowhere when it is time for quiet time or nap time or bed time. I immediately realized that I too have a couple of "bored puppies." Every. Single. Night.

We have the same bed time routine every night. It hasn't changed in months and months. But that doesn't matter. Put them to bed, turn out the lights, crack the bedroom door ... and then the partying begins.

Part of the issue is that it is still light outside at this time of year. That certainly doesn't help things. You leave two three year old boys in a semi-dark room for just a couple of minutes and the chatter starts. That chatter quickly escalates, especially if no one goes in to put a stop to the madness!

This was Monday night. Which really isn't any different than most any other night. I was feeding Silas in his room listening to things slowly get out of hand in the room down the hall. Nothing like two bored puppies chewing up everyone's shoes and nothing being done to stop it. At least in this case there was no destruction. But still ...!

By the time I was finally able to put Silas down (who was only half done and didn't care for being stuck in his crib when he wanted his second course) I walked into the other room to find Bored Puppy Syndrome in full bloom: they were in the opposite beds, there was lots of giggling and shrieking, stuffed animals went flying through the air, and bed sheets were all twisted up. Honestly, I have no idea how I managed to NOT laugh at the antics. I play mean mom on TV, but really I'm laughing on the inside.

The amazing thing is how quickly these two little guys can hop back into their beds and have all the stuffed animals back in place. Two seconds flat. Seriously! Those are some mad skillz!

Threats of timeout, a chat with Hubby, and then I managed to get back to Silas. I continued to listen to things escalate once again (they just can't help themselves) and watched as Hubby enforced timeout. Eventually we had two sleeping boys. It just takes us an hour or more to get there. It is so much like watching bored puppies it's surreal.

In other news, Silas is now 6 months old and I did not get a picture of him on the day of. But we're finally having some professional pictures done this coming weekend and I can't wait to see some beautifully done pictures of all three boys! He also had his 6 month well visit and he's doing well. He's growing and gaining weight but apparently plateauing on the growth charts. He's healthy though, so we're not concerned. I'm going to take him back in a month just for a weight check and as long as he's going up we're not going to worry about it. He may just be a peanut. That's okay with me.

We did attempt to start him on some rice cereal, but it didn't go over very well. He was completely confused by the spoon. The boys had no interest until well past 7 months old, so I'm tempted to just put it away and wait. Hubby thinks we should keep trying. "We" would prefer to wait, but "he" is welcome to keep at it if that's what "he" wants to do.

Finally, I forgot to post here that I had an article up on Catholic Sistas this past Friday. Check out Marriage: A Catholic Understanding when you get a chance. I was especially surprised that Big Pulpit linked it up on their Friday Extra post. Never would have guessed that in a million years, but very honored by the link up.

Speaking of Catholic Sistas, if you don't follow the blog, I encourage you to check it out. We're currently working on a series of posts on the Anima Christi prayer (part 5 went up on Monday), there is a series started on Proverbs 31, and this coming Thursday I put up a guest post that is a letter from a mom to her unborn daughter who is not expected to live very long after birth (prayers for all of them, please!). The Thursday post will bring tears to your eyes! I'm amazed too at how this worked out. I won't go into details, but as it turned out, Thursday is also the day this precious baby will be induced. Putting the post up that day is a total coincidence. God works in amazing ways!! Anyway, all I can say is, we have a lot of good stuff going on at the blog. Posts go up usually four days a week and we have a lot of great talent.

There's a brief update on the goings on in these parts. I've been so sporadic with my blogging lately, but I do like to share when I can. I'm hoping to do another Lawn Chair Catechism post this week, too (I missed last week). Hopefully you'll hear more form me soon!

Friday, June 13, 2014

7 Quick Takes: Cinnamon Rolls, Doughnuts, Pizza, and Other Non-Food Takes


--1--

Not food-related: yesterday at Catholic Sistas there was a post all about fathers. It was a post in pictures and it was fun to look through. Sweet pictures, funny pictures, and everything in between. If you get a chance, go on over and check out 12 Things Catholic Fathers Want To Tell You About Themselves. I contributed a picture to the endeavor. I bet it won't be hard to figure out which one it is. 

--2--

Speaking of awesome dads, my little boy's awesome dad took him to a doctor appointment last week. Ethan had to have an echo cardiogram done and the appointment got made for a day and time that would require me to either bring the baby with me and cancel a meeting or ask Hubby to do it. So Hubby agreed to do it and he took Ethan in. I think the two of them had a good time. I was told that Ethan was really good, he brought his "baby" with him (a small blanket with a monkey head in the middle), and he got to watch Curious George during the echo. Hubby said he didn't seem to mind the procedure at all. And then afterwards, Hubby took him to a local bakery for a cinnamon roll before dropping him off at school. The cinnamon roll was definitely a highlight for the boy! He still mentions it and even Peter will randomly tell us, "Ethan doctor, had cinnamon roll." I think Peter is going to need his own "Daddy Date" soon, cinnamon roll included.

By the way, the echo cardiogram was good. He has a heart murmur, but apparently it's nothing to worry about.

--3--

This morning, both of the big boys got to have a little daddy time. Their daycare was having a "Doughnuts with Daddy" time this morning, so Hubby took the boys in a little early for that. I had them take the van and I loaded it up with all the usual stuff I bring every day. Silas and I came a little later and I fed him in his room as normal and then Hubby brought the boys by to say good-bye to me before heading up to their room. We then switched cars in the parking lot and both headed off to work. I like that our daycare does little things like this for the kids and parents. The boys had been looking forward to having doughnut with daddy all week. Although, I think the appeal of the doughnuts was bigger than time spent with dad. But that's okay, they'll still remember it.

--4--

Since the boys got to have doughnuts today I couldn't resist having a little treat myself. So after leaving the daycare I made a quick stop at the same little local bakery that Hubby had taken Ethan to last week. I bought myself a cinnamon roll and the guy running the cash register stuck two in my bag. I almost didn't notice and then he made a "side" comment and I realized what he had done. Two for the price of one! This is why small businesses are so great!! And those cinnamon rolls were so yummy!! Mmmmmm!

--5--

Enough about doughnuts and cinnamon rolls, we went out to dinner last night as a family. For a family with two working parents, it's amazing that we do so well cooking and eating at home for the most part. But every once in a long while we do have to improvise. So last night we went to a local pizza joint. We had gotten a gift card at Christmas time for this place but hadn't had a chance to use it until now. It's very close to campus and a very popular place so we knew we wanted to wait until things slowed down at the university. And it's summer now, so things are definitely slower! The restaurant was still really busy, but at least we managed to find parking.
The whole experience was a comedy of errors. As I approached the restaurant I saw Hubby walking up the sidewalk to the front door. So I expected him to get us a table and I'd be able to walk in and plop the kids right down. After I managed to get all four of us out of the car and arrange how we were going to walk in and slowly make our way to the building, we got in and could not find Hubby anywhere!! I texted him and got no reply. The hostess finally puts us at a table and I happened to look out and see Hubby standing outside at the corner of the building between the two front door. Obviously he hadn't gotten my text so I wasn't sure if I should bother calling him or not. I tried to arrange the toddlers at the table and eventually gave up, left all three kids there, and went and grabbed Hubby. Then we had a cup of milk spill (what is with waiters who grab a bunch of napkins for you and then plop them down right in the middle of the mess? Now how am I supposed to clean this up?). And then Silas didn't want to be left out, so he had to create a pooping mess for me to clean up. Glad the food was good!!

--6--

The funniest thing about our experience out last night was when Ethan decided he was finished eating. He climbed down from the table and told us he was finished. "I done, I done," he kept saying. I was trying to get him back into the booth and out of people's way. We were sitting right near where the wait staff was coming in and out of the kitchen.I was trying to reason with my toddler (which I know is pretty useless anyway) that he still needed to sit with us, that he didn't have to eat anymore if he was done, and that, unlike at home, there was nowhere for him to go. None of that was convincing him. "No! I done, I done." It was crazy and silly all at the same time. I was inwardly laughing at my "creature of habit" toddler while I was trying to keep him from tripping over the people coming in and out of the kitchen area. Eventually we did manage to get him back into the booth and he even ate some more of his pizza too.

--7--

Our weekend plans will hopefully include a trip to the library, some house cleaning, writing some thank you cards, taking Hubby out for breakfast on Sunday, and maybe even me cooking dinner Sunday evening. We'll see about that last one. Hope you have some great weekend plans! Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there!!

This week's Quick Takes fun is being hosted by Kathryn of Team Whitaker. Go visit for more blogging fun!